Seven days after a video emerged which showed soldiers in military camouflage hurling alleged bandits into a military van somewhere in Kaduna State, Daily Trust gathered that the people, who have been cleared of any links to banditry, are yet to reunite with their families.
Security agencies and the Kaduna State Government had last week confirmed that three people had been killed and about 14 hospitalised when a group of vigilante youths from Kakura, in Chikun LGA of the state attacked a group of Fulani youths who were out searching for their rustled cattle.
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The Commissioner of Police, Yekini Ayoku, the Commanding Officer, 312 Artillery Regiment, Lt. Col. D. O. Igwilo and the Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, had last Monday rebuffed claims that those who appeared in the video, which was shared on multiple social media platforms, were bandits.
The state government and security agents, however, assured that the 14 survivors were in good hands and receiving treatment at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital having been denied treatment in two other hospitals.
However, members of the Fulani community in Kakura at the weekend said they have been denied the corpses of those killed and access to those who survived the attack.
Unsettled by their inability to see those injured and the cumbersome procedure to get the corpses of the dead for burial, the Fulani community said there is uncertainty as to the actual number and identity of those who died.
In their settlement on a piece of land that has now passed onto developers, less than two kilometres off Umaru Musa Yar’adua Road along Kaduna’s Millennium City, our correspondents met a distraught Fulani community that said their priority is to have access to their relatives in the hospital and bury those killed in an attack they described as “unprovoked” by the local vigilantes.
In the midst of their sorrow, members of the community said there is still palpable fear in the settlement as recurring gunshots kept them awake at night.
“We cannot differentiate whether it is bandits who are shooting or the vigilantes who have returned. We hope that government will station security agents in this area,” said Yusuf Shehu, a member of the Fulani settlement.
Shehu and the rest of the community were still receiving condolences from relatives from afar when our correspondents visited at the weekend.
“We are appealing to the government to assist us; we want to see our relatives that were evacuated by the military to the hospital.
“As it is now, we don’t even know the number of people injured or killed among them. Some people said only three were killed, but others said six were killed,” he said.
He said several attempts were made to visit the injured in the hospital so as to assure their children, wives and mothers of their condition were denied.
Getting the corpses for burial had equally been cumbersome as they have been tossed from one security agency to the other before the Easter public holiday.
Narrating incidents on the day of the attack, Shehu said they woke up to recurring gunshots that forced them out of their homes late on Saturday night into surrounding bushes.
“We were all scattered around and ran into nearby bushes because we feared bandits had come to attack us. Shortly before sunrise, when the place was calm, we returned to our homes but we could not eat anything to prepare for the fast because the time had passed.”
He said when they noticed that their cows had been stolen, some youths from the community we in search of the cows but a few hours later, a large crowd of armed youths had encircled their settlement threatening them.
“I was able to escape before they came but when I returned later, I saw the level of damaged done to us. They accused us of being bandits but we are happy the security, government and media have vindicated us and the truth is out.”
Fatima, the wife of Ibrahim Yahaya, said she didn’t know if her husband was one of those killed or had survived the assault and is receiving treatment in the hospital.
“We have not seen them; we want them to allow just one person from our community to see them and assure us of their condition. Those killed should be handed over to us for burial,” she said.
Fatima, a mother of eight, said she was born in the settlement in Kakura and knew no other home but Kakura in Kaduna.
“If anyone thinks we are not from here, then they are mistaken; we know no other place but this place. It is our home and our appeal is for the government to give us the corpses of our husbands so that we can bury them.
“We will pray for the dead while we visit and nurse our injured,” she said.
Shafa’atu, the wife of Alhaji Tukur who is suspected to be one of those who survived the assault, said feeding during Ramadan has become difficult since the attack.
The mother of three sets of twins said “even if it is to see their corpses, we are begging them to allow us to see them; we have been left with children to care for and this is Ramadan period.”
When he received an emergency call asking him to return home, Sa’adu Bala, who is schooling in Gombe State said he immediately returned home in Kakura only to find that his father, grandfather and other relatives were among those attacked and branded bandits on April 10, 2022.
However, since his return, Bala said he has been left confused as to the fate of his father and other members of the family. “My father, my father’s brother and my grandfather are among those who were attacked,” he told our correspondents.
“Others are cousins and friends we grew up together in Kakura.
“All we want is to see them and be rest assured that they are fine but we have been denied access. We know the dead will not return but we want to bury them and also visit the injured. Visiting the hospital will give our mothers and others the needed rest of mind,” he said.
However, Daily Trust gathered from a government official that the corpses may be released on Tuesday after the necessary papers are signed by the GOC 1 Division in Kaduna.
He said some of the victims in the hospital were in critical condition and needed to be stabilised before relatives are allowed to visit them.
The Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs was yet to respond on why the relatives have not been given access to those in the hospital at the time of filing this report
The Chairman of Chikun LGA, Salasi Nuhu Musa, however, said he had signed the necessary papers to ensure that the dead are released to their relatives.
“I signed the papers immediately based on the request of the Divisional Police Officer of Millennium City to see to the release of the corpses. Since then, nobody has told me there is any problem and so I thought the whole thing had been concluded,” he said.
Musa said he has sent a delegation to the families of the victims and a token was given to those who lost their loved ones.
“We were not there to pay compensation; we only offered assistance because we are dealing with so much in Chikun. Hardly a day passes by without someone being killed,’ he said.
He promised to investigate the nightly gunshots in the area saying it may not necessarily be coming from the vigilante in the area.