As we wake up this morning, the people of Kaduna city and its environs would have been under a twenty-four-hour curfew since Friday morning. In fact, except for a few hours when the curfew was relaxed on Wednesday and Thursday last week, Kaduna had been under a round-the-clock curfew since the previous Sunday. Some parts of the adjoining Kajuru Local Government had been in a lock down since crisis erupted there the previous Friday.
Last Friday’s re-imposition of the curfew followed the killing of the Agwom Adara Maiwada Raphael Galadima, paramount ruler of Adara Chiefdom with headquarters in Kachia, southern Kaduna State. He was kidnapped on the highway together with his wife the previous Friday; his police orderly and three palace guards were killed at the scene. Although many thought the traditional ruler’s abduction had to do with the inter-communal clashes at Kasuwar Magani the previous day in which 70 people were killed, hopes that his life would be spared were raised when the kidnappers later released his wife and then demanded for ransom payment.
Meanwhile, the crisis spilled over into Kaduna metropolis last Sunday with burning of tyres, looting of shops and attacking of people across communal lines in parts of the city. Governor Nasiru el-Rufa’i then imposed a 24-hour curfew which he only began to relax mid-week in areas that had preserved the peace. Hopes that the curfew would gradually be lifted were abruptly shattered on Friday with the dastardly murder of the Agwom Adara, which made Kaduna residents to run helter skelter for fear of more violence.
These recent events threaten to undermine Kaduna’s status as the meeting point, melting point and political capital of Northern Nigeria, a city once famous for its accommodating nature, its vibrant spirit and its centrality in the national scheme of things. Since the late 1980s however, Kaduna has suffered many episodes of inter-communal carnage and it is now a city sharply divided along religious lines.
The loss of over 70 lives in the state within about 10 days is highly regrettable and the gruesome, dastardly and insane murder of the Agwom Adara greatly compounded matters. Whether he was killed by kidnappers after collecting ransom or whether he was killed as so-called reprisal over the fracas at Kasuwar Magani, we can only know for sure when the authorities apprehend the culprits and bring them to justice.
We urge the security agencies to leave no stone unturned until they speedily apprehend the culprits. All other persons who were arrested for committing murder, assault and arson, including those at Gonin Gora who are notorious for waylaying highway travellers Dura-Du style, should be prosecuted immediately and made to pay for their actions.
In the meantime, we urge the people of Kaduna State to cooperate closely with the authorities and ensure the return of peace to the state as quickly as possible. A round-the-clock curfew is very hard on the people and it has also chocked off all travels by goods and persons through Kaduna to the far northern states. It was, however, necessary to impose it as the only way to curtail blood-letting and contain criminals who want to hide under the guise of inter-communal conflict to perpetrate looting, arson and murder.
Once peace is restored, it will be time for the elders, traditional rulers, clerics of the major religions, statesmen, youth leaders, security agents, political leaders and other persons of goodwill to sit down together and map out a strategy to end cyclical crises and bloodletting in Kaduna State. A special strategy should be adopted to deal with areas that have become notorious flashpoints over the years, such as Kasuwar Magani.