BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
A peace building group in Southern Kaduna has described allegation of complicity of the military in the renewed crisis in the area as not only false but also malicious and baseless.
The indigenous peace advocacy organisation insisted that contrary to the accusation by the leadership of Atyap Development Association,that the military had aided and abetted the renewed attacks in Southern Kaduna,the military has rather done excellently well in enthroning peace and harmony in the area.
The Kaduna based peace advocacy group operating under the aegis of Southern Kaduna Peace Practitioners Network,SOKIPEP,in a statement on the security situation in Southern Kaduna,countered the claim of the president of Atyap Development Association,
Samuel Achi,that the military and in particular, the Commander of the military formation in charge of peace enforcement in Southern Kaduna,Brigadier General Timothy Opurum,were involved in the crisis.
The group in the statement,signed by its National Coordinator, Rev. Dauda Fadia and the Director of Community Outreach, Dr Samuel Lekwot,absolved the military and the Commander of any wrong doing, insisting that they have carried out their assigned mandate professionally.
To this end,it passed a vote of confidence on Operation Safe Haven ,OPSH and the Commander, noting that contrary to the allegation,the renewed violence in the area was caused by cow poisoning and the killing of a herder by some criminal elements in some southern kaduna villages.
The group which said it has high regard for the Atyap Development Association and its leadership,however said it felt constrained to say the truth even as it may hurt their brothers and the leadership of the association.
“We feel constrained to release this statement stating the true state of security in Southern Kaduna, so as to set the records straight in the overall interest of peace and posterity,”the statement said
Going further,the Southern Kaduna Peace Practitioners Network,said:”As a people who are predominantly Christians, the only thing that can set us free is the truth no matter whose interest is hurt or affected.”
“We wish to counter the blatant, malicious and day light fabricated lies by our brother, Samuel Achi, the President of Atyap Development Association against the military and in particular the Commander of the military formation in charge of peace enforcement in Southern Kaduna,Brigadier General Timothy Opurum.
“We are disappointed in our brother, Mr Achi that he left the true cause of the renewed conflict behind only to blame a man and his team who are doing everything possible to protect our people. The Commander and his team,no doubt, have put in all the available strength and capabilities in emplacing peace in our area without any single iota of bias.
“We naturally wouldn’t have delved into the matter since the military itself is capable of defending themselves. However, we are conscience bound to rise in their defence and also speak the truth in the interest of patriotism and God’s sake,” the group added.
While noting that it condemns “in the strongest terms the senseless and inhuman attacks that have been going on in our communities by suspected criminal herders and their accomplices, the group said the attacks are “reprehensible and must be condemned by all men of goodwill. ”
“While not trying to justify the killing of human beings for any reason or have alibi for the killers,we must look at the criminal activities of some of our farmers and youths who have over time, deliberately ignited these attacks by poisoning cattle belonging to herders without any form of provocation or farm trespass, which should be ordinarily reported to the security agencies.
“We have noted that sometimes, these people
even silently killed the cattle rearers when there is an encroachment.
“Southern Kaduna has been peaceful for more than nine months due to the combine efforts of the military task force,Operation Safe Haven and other security agencies and the entire stakeholders in the Southern Kaduna peace building community, until recently when there was the poisoning of over 70 cows and the killing of a herder at Ugwan Mai Juju.
“Poisoning of cows have become a daily trend in our local communities,even when there is a clear warning that our people shouldn’t take laws into their hands no matter the provocation. In spite of this we allow our youths carry out these criminal acts unchecked and when the security agencies come to arrest them, we hide and protect them. We must stop this forthwith.
“The attacks by suspected criminal herdsmen which led to the death of several people in some Southern Kaduna communities are highly condemnable and must stop henceforth. We the native associations must also be bold enough to tell our people in the local communities to avoid conduct that are likely to cause breach of peace no matter the provocation.
“Our leaders must be bold enough to rise up to the challenge of speaking truth to the youths to stop these criminal acts of cow poisoning and isolated killings of the herders while grazing. If there is any encroachment or infractions, they should quickly report to the security agencies.”
The group said,”Instead of vilifying the Commander of Operation Safe Haven in Southern Kaduna for speaking the truth, we should strive to become genuine peace ambassadors.”
The group said the OPSH Commander ,Brig. General Timothy Opurum “spoke the whole truth on the security situation in the area and from all available records, the Commander and his men have not done anything wrong “in any area in the protection of lives and properties in Southern Kaduna.”
“He has lost several officers and men while trying to protect our people during some of these senseless attacks. It is therefore, an act of mere wickedness for our brothers in the Atyap Community Development Association to leave the substance which is outright criminality to face an innocent man who is doing his work professionally,” it said.
“We therefore, call on the international communities and all Nigerians to ignore the blantant and baseless allegations against the Commander and the military outfit, Operation Safe Haven in Southern Kaduna.”