For all those who accept that reality itself does not matter as much as how reality is constructed, the text of the press conference by the leaders of the Atyap community in Southern Kaduna last Thursday must be an interesting document from many angles. The tone and details do offer us a window to the puzzle why insecurity in Southern Kaduna is called genocide but basically the same thing in nearby Birnin Gwari in the same Kaduna State and in nearby states of Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, etc gets called banditry.
The text suggests that Nigeria can transcend the conflict if other conflict parties also state their case openly, thereby closing the inter-discursive space since abandoned in favour of mostly mechanical institutionalism privileged by the conflict management space in Nigeria.
At 8980 words count, the text of the press conference is a massive text and dealing with it was a headache, especially as the numbering system kept scattering on Intervention’s pasting board. This is only a part of it!
By Sule Tinat Bodam, (Secretary-General, Atyap Community Development Association – ACDA)
- On 29th June 2020, Mr. Muyiwa Adekeye, Special Adviser on Media and Communication to Governor Nasir Ahmad El Rurai, issued a statement informing the public that the Kaduna State Government had set up a White Paper Committee on 1992 Zangon Kataf Crisis. According to Adekeye, the main assignment of the White Paper Committee is “to draft a White Paper on the two reports of the Rahila Cudjoe Commission of Inquiry into the Zangon-Kataf riots of February and May 1992.” As an adjunct to this, the Government White Paper Drafting Committee “will also consider the 1995 report of the Zangon-Kataf Reconciliation Committee, chaired by Air Vice Marshal Usman Muazu.” Mr. Muyiwa Adekeye ignorantly or deliberately claims that the recommendations of the aforementioned Reports “have not received comprehensive response or attention”. The facts below will show that this statement is calculated to misinform the public, as it is quite false.
- The Government claims that “no White Paper was drafted” by the administrations that set up the Cudjoe Commission and AVM Usman Muazu Reconciliation Committee. While this could apply to the Cudjoe Commission, it is not true that a White Paper was not produced on the AVM Muazu Committee report. The evidence for the existence of a White Paper on the Muazu Committee Report is in a Press Release by the Office of the Executive Governor of Kaduna State of Nigeria, Ref. No. GH/KD/S/315, dated 4th July 2000. The Governor who authorized the issuance of the above referenced document is still both alive and sound. That White Paper is available in Government House Kaduna, and we ask the Government of Governor Nasir Ahmad El Rufai to make the original White Paper on the AVM Usman Muazu Reconciliation Committee public without tampering with the contents.
- By making such claim that the reports of the Cudjoe Commission and AVM Usman Muazu Reconciliation Committee “have not received comprehensive response or attention”, the El Rufai administration seeks to give the wrong impression that previous administrations of the Kaduna State Government did not address the recommendations made by both panels. On the contrary the Federal and Kaduna State governments over the years took several far reaching decisions on the recommendations in those reports and implemented them. It is therefore imperative to clarify these matters for the information of the public, for it is indeed very strange that the El Rufai government wants to exhume and draft a White Paper on Cudjoe Commission report written 28 years ago, most of the issues of which have been resolved and reconciliation achieved between the Atyap Community and the Hausa Community of Zangon Kataf town. The question arises as to what the El Rufai government seeks to achieve by drafting a White Paper over a report whose recommendations were implemented by the Federal and Kaduna State Governments, and on which any other remaining issues have been overtaken by events, unless the El Rufai administration has other ulterior motives for setting up its White Paper Committee.
- In paragraph 2 of its statement the Kaduna State Government claims that: “Violent clashes broke out in Zangon-Kataf LGA on 11th June 2020 between two communities that were reportedly disputing ownership of farmlands whose place in the conflict is mentioned in the 1992 and 1995 reports.” Also at paragraph 7, the Kaduna State Government, intent on tying the happenings of 10th and 11th June 2020 in Zangon Kataf to the Cudjoe Commission’s report of 1992, again claims that “Following skirmishes a week earlier, disputes over the same farmlands again led to an outbreak of violence and killings in Zangon-Kataf and Kauru LGAs on Thursday, 11th June 2020.” These claims are false and completely at variance with what actually happened on 10th and 11th June, 2020. Contrary to paragraph 2 of Adekeye’s statement, there were no “violent clashes” between any communities in Zangon Kataf and Kauru LGAs on 11th June 2020. What happened was a peaceful demonstration by youth demanding an investigation into the gruesome murder of a young teacher the previous day. On 10th June, 2020, 32-year-old Yusuf Musa Magaji, son of retired Reverend Musa Magaji, was shot and then slaughtered on his farm in Zangon Kataf Urban District. Yusuf’s brutal murder was the twelfth in a long string of such murders perpetrated by Fulani individuals and groups against Atyap men and women since 2017, which had been reported to the security agencies in Zangon Kataf LGA and Kaduna State, without any response from the authorities. What was worse, the individuals that personally threatened to kill Yusuf Magaji had been reported to the Magajin Gari of Zangon Kataf, who had been witness to the purchase of the farmland by Reverend Magaji while he was residing in Zangon Kataf town 2009. Following the deliberate slaughter of Yusuf Musa Magaji and the subsequent discovery of his corpse by a combined team of Security Officers and Chiefs, Elders and Youth of Atyap Chiefdom, on 11th June 2020 the youth staged a peaceful demonstration, and the soldiers sent from Jos shot and killed one youth and shot and critically injured 12 others, on the same day, after which a 24-hour curfew was imposed on the same 11th June, 2020. It should be stated for the avoidance of doubt that:
(i) The events of 10th and 11th June 2020 were over a criminal homicide or the premeditated killing of a young person.
(ii) Investigation of the crime is on-going although there is clear evidence that the three prime suspects of the murder reported officially to the Police are still walking about free; more so that several such murders in Atyapland since 2017 were treated with extreme levity by the Government of Kaduna State.
- In fact, in trying to justify the setting up of the Government’s White Paper Committee, Mr. Adekeye mischievously falsified the findings of the Cudjoe Commission. The Commission had stated at paragraphs 20, 21 and 22 of their Report of June 1992, that “the three immediate causes” of the 1992 riots were: the relocation of the Zangon Kataf weekly market; its handling by the authorities and the police; and reactions to the provocative actions of Alhaji Danbala A. T. K. of Zangon Kataf town at the new market on 6th February 1992. As for “the remote causes” the Cudjoe Commission stated at paragraph 24 that it was the “inadequacy of the old market situated in the heart of Zango town”; and at paragraph 25, “the second remote cause is entrenched in the socio-economic set-up peculiar to Zangon Kataf.” Other remote causes in paragraphs 26-28 included “religious intolerance and disregard for each others (sic) customs and traditions by both the Katafs and Hausas”; “mutual suspicion between both communities”; and issues related to “mixed marriages between the Hausas and the Katafs”. The only remote cause related to land was that of Hurumi (communal grazing area), over which the Commission ignored all evidence presented by the Atyap in favour of Hausa claims that a former Hausa/Fulani District Head took the land from the Katafs and gave to the Hausas in 1920. The other remote cause was a dispute over a small piece of land called “Baradawa”, the Atyap ceremonial ground, which the Cudjoe Commission established a Court of competent jurisdiction had ruled in favour of the Atyap in 1984, and over which the Atyap held a Kaduna State Local Government Certificate of Occupancy No. KCH/A/000768 dated 20th August 1986 issued by the then Kachia Local Government, of which the present Zangon Kataf LGA was a part. Where then is the connection between what the Cudjoe Commission wrote and Muyiwa Adekeye’s manufactured fables that what happened in 2020 was over the same land as in 1992? The AVM Usman Muazu Committee had recommended that the Kaduna State Government should investigate whether a former District Head had set aside a piece of land for public use (hurumi) and when, and when that public land became the private farmlands of the Hausa/Fulani of Zangon Kataf, and the legality of those actions. That recommendation has never been carried out. What is more pertinent is whether the action of a District Head (being an appointee of a Governor) in 1920 or 1927 supersedes the delineation of the official boundary of Zangon Kataf Urban District authorised by the Governor of Kaduna State on 11th August 1995, which was mutually agreed by both the Atyap and the Hausa Fulani in the presence of the Governor.
- The September 1992 Cudjoe report stated that there was “only one immediate cause to the riots of the 15th and 16th May 1992 in Zangon Kataf and that was the uprooting of crops on Hausa farmlands which eventually the Hausas retaliated against, by uprooting crops on some Kataf farmlands” (para. 23). The Cudjoe Commission then contradicted themselves in paragraphs 24 and 25 by rejecting all evidence presented to them and turned around to blame only the Atyap for the uprooting of crops.
- In considering the remote causes in the September 1992 report, the Cudjoe Commission threw all sense of fairness, balanced consideration of evidence and indeed the very elementary principle that there are two sides to a conflict, ignored the provocative letters and actions of the Hausa, and not only blamed the Atyap, but accused, tried and found them “guilty”, and then enumerated the names of the Atyap to be arrested and jailed. After stating their findings at paragraphs 37, 38 and 39 that neither ACP Juri Babang Ayok (Rtd), Mallam Bala Dauke Ade, nor Gen Zamani Lekwot (Rtd) were involved in the riots, Justice Cudjoe still “reasoned” that because they were “mentioned” by some Hausa witnesses, and that they and several others “did not intervene to stop the riots”, she was quite satisfied that they were “already detained and should be tried in connection with the riots”. Justice Cudjoe did not recommend a single Hausa person, including those who admitted shooting Atyap persons during the riots, and those the Police testified were shooting people with machine guns, for investigation or trial. All the Atyap persons the Cudjoe Commission pointed at on the basis of allegations by “witnesses” were detained, tried, jailed, and sentenced to death or life imprisonment. Is the Kaduna State Government White Paper Committee set up to dredge up the discredited Cudjoe report in order to try and jail the Atyap leaders a second time?
- In paragraph 3 of the government’s statement read by Adekeye it is stated that the riots of February 1992 led to 95 deaths, and 1,528 deaths in May 1992, 305 in Kaduna, Zaria, Ikara etc. While it was indeed regrettable and unfortunate that people lost their lives, the contents of the two Cudjoe reports show that they derived their figures of casualties from one individual named Ibrahim Kutumbi Chakaikai resident of Zangon Kataf, who claimed to have derived the list from relations of the deceased. There were no subsequent investigations by the Police or any authority admissible in law to verify the claims contained in the memoranda the Cudjoe Commission stated it relied on to arrive at the figures it published in it reports.
- Adekeye’s claim that the “reports have not received comprehensive response or attention”, is patently false and contradicted by the facts. Most of the Cudjoe Commission’s recommendations were for visiting harsh retribution on the Atyap, and the General Babangida government did so, using Decree No. 2 of 1985 and passing Decree 55 (1992) to oust the jurisdiction of the courts and deny the Atyap the rights of fair hearing and appeal.
(a) It is on record that certain Atyap individuals named in the September 1992 Cudjoe report at para. 110(ii), (iii) a. and b. were arrested, detained, tried and sentenced to death, life imprisonment and various other jail terms, and they served their terms. The Okadigbo tribunal, acting as anti-riot policemen, assumed that every Atyap mentioned by the Hausas was guilty and proceeded to jail them. Men of conscience as Godwin Alaye Graham-Douglas SAN, in disgust at the travesty of justice perpetrated by Okadigbo, resigned in protest from the tribunal (The African Guardian, February 15, 1993, 31-33). Between 1992 and September 1994 the Babangida regime, exercising dictatorial powers enshrined in Decree 55 also ignored the judgement of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights that the fundamental human rights of the Atayp Elders had been violated (African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Communication 87/93Constitutional Rights Project (in respect of Zamani Lekwot and 6 Others) Nigeria: Gross violation of Human Rights in Zango Kataf, Taken at the 16th Session, Banjul The Gambia, October 1994).
(b) Cudjoe’s recommendations at para. 110 (v) b. and c. on payment of compensation to the Hausas of Zangon Kataf for losses they sustained were fully implemented by the government. The Commission specified the mode of such compensation at Para. 110(xxiii) a. b. c. and d. Facts from the records of the Government’s Zangon Kataf Resettlement Committee show that even after most of the returning Hausa/Fulani had misapplied their compensation monies and failed to use them for rebuilding their houses, the Government had to take over the building of the houses, in addition to increasing the compensation paid to the Hausa/Fulani.
(c) The Cudjoe Commission at para 110 (iv) c. recommended the rebuilding of Zango town, with all the facilities and amenities of a modern town, and it was completely rebuilt by the Federal Government.
- d) Recommendations relating to some policemen at para. 110 (vii) a. were implemented and some were dismissed from the Nigeria Police Force.
(e) The Commission recommended at para. 110 (vii) c. the building of a Police Station and Police Barracks in Zango town, and it was done.
(f) The Cudjoe Commission made recommendations at para. 110 (xii) c. and d. that we reproduce verbatim: 110(xii) c. “Chiefdoms should be granted to all deserving ethnic groups in Southern Kaduna State, if it is adjudged that such a grant will guarantee peace and stability in the State.”
110(xii) d. “As a deterrent to others, the Katafs should be made to tow the line and be the last to be considered for the grant of Chiefdom among the Southern Kaduna ethnic groups; provided the Katafs show remorse and penitence by words or deed.”
This recommendation was implemented by Col. Lawal Ja’afar Isa’s administration in 1995 after the AVM Usman Muazu Report, and thereafter by the administration of Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi from 2001.
(g) At paragraph 87 (i)-(iii) the recommendations of the Cudjoe Commission (June 1992) on all prominent Katafs to be tried by tribunal and jailed by the Federal Military Government were implemented with extreme prejudice, even when the Commission had found that they had no foreknowledge and were not involved in the riots as stated in paragraphs 37, 38 and 39 of the report.
(h) In paragraphs 45-49 of the Report of September 1992, the Cudjoe Commission recommended severe punishment for the Atyap leaders for not going to the venue of the riots to tell rioters to withdraw.
(i) The Commission recommended the trial and jailing of eight (8) Village Heads and eight (8) village representatives for writing a letter to the Governor, but exonerated the Izala group of Zangon Kataf that wrote a letter to the Sultan declaring a jihad in Katafland.
- Nowhere in the two Cudjoe Reports did they recommend verification of land claims or reconciliation of the two communities; and certainly did not pretend to be concerned with peace building in the area. How the El Rufai administration proposes to use this very negative, vindictive and bellicose Cudjoe Commission Report as a basis for finding “lasting peace” in Zangon Kataf is simply mind boggling.
- In paragraph 4 of the Kaduna State Government statement read by Mr. Muyiwa Adekeye he stated that “the elected government of Kaduna State, led by Alhaji Dabo Lere, did not produce a White Paper to set out its official position on the recommendations of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry.” The Dabo Mohammed Lere government could not write a White Paper on the Cudjoe Commission report because that report could not in any way meet the basic requirements of fair hearing, did NOT stand the most rudimentary test of justice, and was neither judicial nor judicious in its operations, conduct and procedure. The Dabo Lere government found that the Cudjoe Report was so bad and biased that it was embarrassing as it had turned from a fact finding to a fault finding panel. No single Hausa man was held responsible for what happened. The Atyap had nothing to do with the subsequent sitting of the Commission, and Cudjoe’s Commission resorted to using hearsay, memoranda from one side and newspaper reports to pass judgments on the Atyap using words like “confrontational”, “could have stopped the Katafs but failed to go to Zangon Kataf” etc, as the bases for their judgments.
- With regard to the non-issuance of a White Paper, it must be reiterated that when the Kaduna State Government found the proceedings, conduct and report of the Cudjoe Commission to be fault finding, biased, contentious, discredited and embarrassing, it set aside. It was due to the fact that the Cudjoe Report could not serve a basis for peace and stability that the Col. Lawal Ja’afar Isa administration set up the AVM Usman Muazu Committee. When the Hausa/Fulani and Atyap representatives on the AVM Usman Muazu Committee completely disagreed on the question of a White Paper on the Cudjoe Report, the Committee at para. 22.03.iv) stated: “In fact unlike the Cudjoe Commission of enquiry, a Reconciliation Committee is not expected to find faults and apportion blames.” Mallam (Now Professor) Kabiru Mato was a member of the AVM Muazu Committee and was party to demanding for a white paper on the jaundiced Cudjoe Report. Is it then a coincidence that the El Rufai administration of which the same Professor Kabiru Mato is a prominent member, is now setting up a White Paper Committee on the Cudjoe Commission report, a move that the AVM Muazu Committee had advised was not conducive for reconciliation and healing process? The AVM Usman Muazu Committee was thus aptly titled The Committee For Reconciliation And Search For Lasting Peace for Zangon Kataf Community.
13. Muyiwa Adekeye said at paragraph 6 of the Kaduna State Government’s statement claimed that the “AVM Muazu committee stated that it could not resolve three burning issues: Ownership over farmlands, Release of White Paper on the report of the Cudjoe Commission of Inquiry, Release of detainees”. By this tendentious statement Muyiwa Adekeye presumes to stand the truth on its head, and pretends that nothing happened after the AVM Muazu Committee submitted its report.
14. Just like with the Cudjoe recommendations, with respect to the AVM Usman Muazu report, the recommendations have been implemented; or are in the process of being implemented, and where they have not been fully implemented, the problem lies with the Kaduna State Government and obstructionist antics of some individuals based in Kaduna.
(i). The Muazu Committee, having observed that there were Sharia Courts and a Sharia Court of Appeal for the Muslims in Kaduna State, and no equivalent for the non-Muslims, recommended the setting up of Customary Courts and a Customary Court of Appeal in Kaduna State and it was implemented by the Kaduna State Government.
(ii). The Committee at paragraphs 2.03 and 2.04 recommended the creation of a Chiefdom for the Atyap and the administration of Col. Lawal Jafaru Isa implemented it.
(iii) At the AVM Usman Muazu Committee sitting, the Hausa Community of Zangon Kataf at paragraph 10.02 formally acknowledged that Zangon Kataf town is located in Atyap land, and requested for the creation of a Zangon Kataf Urban District when the Atyap Chiefdom was created, and the Kaduna State Government under Col. Lawal Ja’afar Isa implemented it.
(iv). The Hausa community of Zangon Kataf demanded for the creation of a Zango Kataf Urban Electoral Ward for only Hausas of Zango Urban, to separate them from Zonzon Ward, and it was done.
(v). The Atyap Traditional Council appointed a representative for the Hausas of Zango Urban, and a representative of the Fulani in the Chiefdom on the Atyap Traditional Council, and this has remained so to this day.
(vi) On the status of Zangon Kataf town, because of the false propaganda that has been waged by those against peaceful relations and integration of the communities, it will be necessary to quote the AVM Muazu report at para. 18.00