•As Catholic Church puts death toll at 808 •Says 1,422 houses, 16 Churches, 19 shops, one primary school destroyed. •As Abdulsalami, Sultan, Onayekan, Kukah meet el-Rufai
By Luka Binniyat
The National Emer-gency Management Agen-cy, NEMA, a govern-ment agency confirmed yesterday that the crisis in Southern Kaduna between Fulani herds-men and the natives which has lasted months claimed 204 lives.
The Catholic Church in its report however put the casualty figure at 808 as of December 2016, a figure that was disputed by the Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris who did not give a contrary number. The Catholic Church also said 1,422 houses, 16 Churches, 19 shops, and one primary school were destroyed.
This is just as former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubkar led members of the National Peace Committee to a meeting with Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna state yesterday in what he said was a search for a sustainable solution to the protracted violence in Southern Kaduna.
NEMA North West zonal Coordinator, Musa Ilella told online medium, Premium Times that the figure was for two Local Government Areas affected by the crisis, namely Kafanchan and Chikun LGAs and covers October, November and December, 2016 and early January, 2017.
According to him,”four districts in Kafanchan LGA namely: Linte,Goska,Dangoma and Kafanchan town recorded 194 deaths. Chikun LGA on the other hand recorded about 10 deaths, making a total of 204 so far,” he said adding that there was no record of any injured victim in the hospital.
Governor Nasir El Rufai had said the attackers were foreign Fulani herdsmen, who were avenging past attacks on them and their livestock.
The state and federal governments have been accused of not doing enough to end the bloodshed.
The presidency announced last week the deployment of anti-riot police and soldiers to the area.
National Peace Comm-ittee meets el-Rufai.
Meanwhile, the National Peace Comm-ittee team that visited Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai included Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja Catholic Arch Diocese, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alh. Abubakar Sa’ad, and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Hassan Mathew Kukah, among others
Speaking to the Press after the meeting, the silky white bearded former military ruler said: “We are here due to the recent happenings in Southern Kaduna. And from here within the week, we are going to meet with other stakeholders, religious leaders, the Chiefs in the area and also visit the site where these problems are and discuss with the people. After which we will now sit down and see what we think should be done.
“Then, we will come back to the governor and also if necessary to the federal government. These clashes and killings are not limited to Kaduna state, it is something that is engulfing the country. We therefore want to make sure that peace reigns in Nigeria, to make sure that people know that we are together, we have to live in peace with each other and we have what it is to give and take. We are reaching a situation in the country where human life doesn’t mean anything to people and this is wrong.
“There is no religion on earth or anywhere that preaches violence. So this is why we are here today. We thank the governor and his team for receiving us. One of the points that the governor drew our attention to was the way people would take law into their hands and go scot free. This is impunity that must be checked. These are some of the issues we discussed.
“Everybody is aggrie-ved in one way or the other, so we will prevail on the people to be patient, try to forgive one another and to be each other’s keeper. We must live together, we must find solution to the problems to sit down and talk to ourselves because there is no problem that cannot be solved when you are talking to each other”.
On his part, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, a native of Zangon Kataf, in Southern Kaduna told newsmen that the visit of the committee was to show solidarity with the people of Kaduna State.
He said: “The National Peace Committee members are in Kaduna to hear first hand what exactly is happening and what they can do with the hope to find a way forward based on the situation.
“What we are doing now is trying to bring about peace. We didn’t just hold the election, we are looking at how we can achieve peace and stability . I think what the people of Kaduna State, including the government should be doing now is to look into how we can achieve peace and development and I think that is the reason we have demo-cracy.
“So whatever contribu-tions anybody can make, we need to make it”, he said.