Press Statement From Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) on Akwanaja Bombing (3rd February, 2023)
The Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) is very concerned about a well packaged bouquet of deadly accusations leveled against a great son of the Middle Belt, Samuel Ortom – the indomitable governor of Benue State – by a highly connected and powerful anonymous Fulani group led by the former Emir of Kano, Alh Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
Let it be put on record that SOKAPU condems unreservedly the murder of innocent citizens or any human being resident in Nigeria irrespective of race, tribe, religion or region.
Southern Kaduna has had more than it can handle from such cruelty especially in the past eight years, so we know what mass murder of harmless law abiding citizens means.
The 24th January 2023 bombing of Akwanaja village, Doma LGA of Nasarawa state against targets which Fulani leaders said were innocent herders has been massively reported in the mass media.
The Air Force authority has owned up to the bombings and defended its action.
But if indeed those killed in the bombing are innocent herders, justice must take its course and full restitution paid their families.
On the 30th January 2023, the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, wrote and signed a strong worded letter laced with allegations and threats against Gov Ortom to President Muhammadu Buhari and the letter found its way into the Press.
For the former Emir of Kano and top Fulani elites to go far fetched in trying to rope Ortom into the incident is preposterous and unfortunate.
As it appears, the major sin of governor Ortom is the Open Grazing and Livestock Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law which is enforced by the Benue State Livestock Guards.
Since the courageous enactment of that law in 2017, Gov Ortom has not only come under a blitzkrieg of verbal attacks by disgruntled Fulani leaders and groups he has suffered and survived several attempts on his life. His accusing fingers over such murderous plots have been toward those that are in absolute rejection of the “anti-open grazing” law of Benue State.
If a state government enacts a law that every resident of the state is bound to abide by, no ethnic group has the exclusive right to disrespect such a law no matter how privileged and protected it may be. The most civilise thing to do is to follow the democratic process of reviewing the law or repealing it.
We therefore expect Sanusi and his tribal leaders to encourage his kinsmen to respect the laws of Benue State as long as they are on Benue State soil, while seeking for legal ways to amend or repeal any law they find objectionable to the interest of their people.
What SOKAPU finds curious and very surprising is that Sanusi who has portrayed himself as a nationalist of some kind, has reduced himself to a narrow champion of his tribesmen.
We say this because Sanusi has made Kaduna his second home since his dethronment as the Emir of Kano in March 2020, but has never made a comment on the mass killings of the people of Southern Kaduna and Hausa and law abiding Fulani in Kaduna State. In June 2022, we reported with prove how killer herdsmen on over 150 motor bikes attacked some communities in Adara Chiefdom in Kajuru LGA in Southern Kaduna as a low flying Air Force gun-mounted plane assisted the invaders. 32 innocent farmers were killed in the attack and score were kidnapped. This is just one of such attacks in which we have accused a rogue section of the military of connivance. As a statesman which Sanusi has been trying his best to portray, we would have expected him to lend his weighty voice in criticising such criminality and asking for justice even if it is not with the zest and commitment he is putting on the Akwanaja bombing.
Sanusi wields a lot of influence on the Governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai. But, el-Rufai has continued to show lack of capacity or will to protect or care for the people of Kaduna state, especially from the carnage carried out by armed herdsmen who are also referred to as “bandits.” Why Sanusi decides to put his gaze on Ortom in far away Benue State (away from the scene of the killings in Nasarawa state), when Kaduna, his second home is flowing with the blood of innocent citizens from barbaric herdsmen attacks, surely smacks of a worrisome agenda against Ortom.
Therefore, Southern Kaduna, which is a formidable part of the Middle Belt, hereby wants to affirm that if harm happens to Ortom, we know who should be held responsible.
We stand in solidarity with Ortom and the People of Benue State.
We also call for full investigation into the Akwanaja bombing. We also ask that same to be extended into similar bombings that had taken place in Southern Kaduna.
Sign: Luka Binniyat.