Some communities in southern part of Kaduna recently came under attacks leading to loss of many lives and destruction of properties. Survivors and victims of the attack recount their experiences to Daily Trust on Sunday in this report.
It was on a Sunday night when families retired to sleep that gunmen attacked the Mallagum and Sokwong communities in Kaura LGAs of Kaduna State and killed about 40 people.
Narrating his ordeal, Nathan Thomas Yashim, who lost his father, step-mother and some relatives, said they were suspecting herdsmen.
He said, “We don’t have any issue with the Fulani in this area. We hid and protected them during the 2011 post-presidential election crisis and escorted them out of our community unharmed; so why the attack on us now?
“They shot at us and we ran for our lives. They entered our house, burnt down my car and all my belongings. I rushed to rescue my father in his house but unfortunately the evil doers ended his life together with many people of my community.”
He further said, “I farm in large quantities. In fact, I am the largest farmer in my community, but the attackers have ruined my life. I don’t know where and how to start from because I depend on farming to earn my living. They have reduced me to square zero.”
He added that, “We are still receiving calls from the attackers with the phone numbers of those killed; that they are coming for another attack because they have not finished yet.”
Another victim, Ishaku Aluwong, from Sokwong community, told our reporter that on his way back from his ginger farm he met some Fulani with their cattle a day before the attack.
He said, “Two of them faced me, one with a cutlass and the other with a knife. They said they were going to kill me. I asked them what happened. The one with the knife insisted that he was going to kill me, and I begged him to spare my life but he collected the cutlass and attacked me. That’s how my hand was matcheted because I raised it to protect my head.”
An aged woman, Elizabeth Joel, from Sokwong, said the attackers came to her room and asked her to leave immediately or she would be killed.
She said, “I saw people running when the attackers invaded our community. So, I told the members of our house to go and leave me because I am old and also not well. One of the attackers said I should be killed, but the remaining two objected to the idea. They then ordered me to leave the house quickly and they set the house on fire. I hid under banana trees and watched how they burnt my house and other neighbouring houses.”
The first attack was on December 13, 2021, after a dispute between a farmer and herdsman in Mallagum which led to the death of the farmer.
“We also lost seven of our members after the chaos and some are still missing,” said Abdulhamid Musa Albarka, the Southern Kaduna Chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN).
A Ward Head in Sokwong, Joseph Nkut, said he ran and hid in a banana farm and watched how the attackers were setting houses on fire, shooting and killing people.
He said, “I watched as they killed members of my community. People were running and screaming, but there was no one to help them. Everything happened within a short time.”
He further said that apart from individuals’ support, mostly politicians, and an NGO, Gideon & Funmi Parra-Mallam Peace Foundation, there was no support from the government.
Speaking with our correspondent, a former District Head of Mallagum, Moses Akayet Sofa, said the damage and the loss of lives affected every family in the community because they were all related.
Akayet, who is also the Barden Kagoro, said they had some respite when the mobile policemen arrived at the scene after some time.
He, therefore, called on the government to do everything possible to stop the attacks and also come to the aid of his people and provide them with food, shelter and clothes.
The National President of Kagoro Development Association (KDA), Professor Duniya Jiles Gambo, said over 40 persons were killed and over 150 houses burnt in the attacks.
He lamented on how the government abandoned them without bringing any relief material.
He said, “We are only seeing them on television responding and giving relief materials in other places, but the last time they came here was in March, 2022, after an attack, where they collected the data and took statistics, but up to now we have not seen them again.”
Our correspondent observed that after the attack, military men have been stationed around the communities.
The founder of Gideon & Funmi Parra-Mallam Peace Foundation, Reverend Gideon Parra-Mallam, who brought bags of rice, bean, garri, clothes and blankets to the displaced communities of Sokwong and Mallagum, called on the government to do the needful to bring back peace to the communities and bring the culprits to book.
He said, “Government should take serious measures to protect the lives and property of its citizens.”
He also called on the residents to eschew bitterness and refrain from taking revenge or taking the law into their hands, noting that, “God is on top of everything; killing each other in the name of revenge cannot do good to us and cannot take us anywhere. All we want is justice and peace.”