Hundreds of youth protesters in the southern Kaduna area of Kaduna State today demonstrated against the incessant killings of inhabitants by armed herdsmen. The demonstration started in the morning (Nigerian time) and lasted into the afternoon.
The youth protesters, who were joined by some aged women and men, ended their demonstration at the palace of the traditional ruler of Kagoro, Ufuwai Bonet. Mr. Bonet is also the leader of all traditional rulers in the area. The demonstrators sang songs and demanded an end to what they described as genocide.
The hundreds of protesters trooped to the hilly town of Kagoro from such locations as Kaduna, Abuja and other surrounding communities. Many of the protesters said they were disappointed that the traditional ruler of Kagoro failed to come out and address them. Instead, the traditional ruler sent his emissaries to meet with the protesters.
A few protesters accused the traditional ruler of “playing safe” in order not to run into trouble with Nigerian government officials. After waiting for the chief in vain, the leader of the youths, Vincent Bodam, addressed the protesters.
He said, “We have come here as responsible and concerned youths of southern Kaduna bothered about the systematic genocide of our people, mainly children and women.” He remarked that the people of the area had survived numerous challenges in the past, including the jihad of the 1800s, the slave raids of the 19th century, and the imposition of British colonial rule. He stated that the people were now “faced with brutal and unbelievably callous murders” at the hands of Fulani herdsmen “for reasons they alone know.”
Said Mr. Bodam, “We have suffered killings in cold blood in the peace and quiet of our homes and the end to this gruesome experience is nowhere near.” He added: “We are worried that the future and preservation of our land have been left completely in the hands of politicians, who trade our land, culture and God-given right to life for slavery and servitude. It is high time we stood up and freed our land from calamity.”
Regarding last week’s massacre of more than 200 inhabitants of southern Kaduna communities, the speaker urged anybody with useful information to come forward in order to help the survivors complete their findings and file genocide charges at the International Court at The Hague.
“How can 147 sons and daughters of a state be killed in one fell swoop in Kaura villages, and a sitting governor would not go to see and speak to the aggrieved since February, and again about 200 have been killed in mass invasions of Sanga villages, and the governor does not have the moral courage to visit any of the affected places or persons.”
The demonstrators protested an initiative by the National Assembly to create grazing reserves for herdsmen. “We are watching with consternation the spirited, if not desperate, attempt by poorly informed lawmakers and government officials to create new exclusive grazing vast lands for nomads and to resuscitate dormant ones in our area. The excuse is that they would provide graze reserves for the nomads to appease their inclination to violence, but we strongly kick against this and warn that it portends a very precarious future for this country,” the protesters’ spokesman said.
He said that the creation of grazing reserves would lead to “mass influx of foreign Fulani herdsmen to ‘free lands’ and will serve as [a] safe haven for all kinds of nefarious activities. In the next 50 years, grazing reserves that would have become towns of only Fulani in the middle of non-nomads people would be like bringing wool and fire together. For the sake of our future, we must vehemently counter this move.”
The spokesman vowed that the people of southern Kaduna would use every legal means to resist the creation of grazing reserves. He stated that cattle rearing was a private business, adding that “all those engaged in it should be encouraged to learn to live with other people and seek ways to integrate with other cultures.” He added that farmers, fishermen, hunters, and others must co-exist and must not be given exclusive rights to lands that are the ancestral heritage of others.