By Sule Tinat Bodam, (Secretary-General, Atyap Community Development Association – ACDA)
- Muyiwa Adekeye carries falsehood to ridiculous levels by claiming in paragraph 11 of his statement that “The events of 11th and 12th June 2020 in Zangon-Kataf and Kauru LGAs offer compelling evidence that these persistent contentions over farmlands is a conflict trigger”. Since 1992, and especially following the AVM Usman Muazu Reconciliation Committee, and the Peace Agreement brokered by Governor Lawal Ja’afar Isa in 1995, there has been peace in Atyap Chiefdom. In furtherance of peace in the land the Atyap chiefdom authorities took several steps, some of which have been enumerated above. In addition:
(a) The Atyap Traditional Council in 1996 set up a 14-member committee made up of 7 Hausa and 7 Atyap representatives to identify owners of farmlands in and around Zangon Kataf Urban District. All the Hausa claimants took over their farmlands. Over the years the Hausas have sold more than 80% of their farmlands to private individuals, and all the transactions were witnessed by Hausa Village Heads and District Heads of Zangon Kataf Urban District, and the transactions were documented. The farmland on which Yusuf Magaji was killed was purchased by Reverend Musa Magaji at the sum of N400,000.00, when he was residing inside Zango town, and was duly receipted and documented. Those who threatened to kill Yusuf Magaji if he did not stop cultivating his father’s piece of land were not the previous owners of the farmland. When the death threats were reported by Reverend Magaji and his son to the Zango Village Head who officially witnessed the sale of the land, he dismissed the threats as coming from “rascals”. These facts are known to the Police.
(b) A committee set up by the Kaduna State Government chaired by His Royal Highness the Chief of Moro’a, Malam Tagwai Sambo, recommended the accelerated development of the marshland for irrigated farming, but the government did not implemented it.
- On February 18, 2016, and November 28, 2016, Zango Urban Development Association wrote petitions to Governor Nasir El Rufai on alleged “Unlawful Relocation of Atyap Chiefdom Headquarters and Refusal of Atyap Chiefdom to Vacate Our Farmlands in Breach of the Reconciliation Agreement in 1995”. In the petitions Zango Urban Development Association made several false claims:
(i) That “Zango Urban District was created in 1996 from the old Zango District under Zazzau Emirate even before the creation of Atyap Chiefdom”, and then they attached the Kaduna State Creation of Chiefdoms Edict No. 7 of 30th November, 1995. For the record, Zangon Kataf Urban District was created in 1996 along with other Districts of the Atyap Chiefdom. Their statement that “Ikulu and Atyap Chiefdoms were created thereafter from the old Zango Urban district” is obviously false.
(ii) Their claim that Kaduna State government failed to create a Zango Urban chiefdom exclusively for Hausa/Fulani has no basis, as the contents of the AVM Usman Muazu Committee Report and the Video Tapes of the proceedings of the Parley of 11th August 1995, show that the Hausa/Fulani community asked only for a Zangon Kataf Urban District, and it was created for them.
(iii) Some persons claiming to represent the Hausa/Fulani of Zangon Kataf Urban District kept on writing to ask for creation of a Hausa Chiefdom in Kataf land until the Kaduna State Government exposed their fraud in publications in 2001, and the Zango Urban District authorities denounced them.
(iv) On 3rd April 2012 at the Council Chamber of Zangon Kataf Local Government, Zonkwa, one Alhaji Mohammed Umar from Abuja asked the Kaduna State Peace and Reconciliation Committee to recommend the creation of a Zango Urban chiefdom, and the Hausa/Fulani elders of Zango Urban District at the meeting said that they did not know Alhaji Mohammed Umar.
(v) Between February and November 2016 the Zango Urban Development Association using the District Head’s office at Zango and BZ 22 Sardauna Crescent Kaduna as their addresses, wrote a “Petition on the Unlawful Relocation of Atyap Chiefdom Headquarters and the Refusal of Atyap Chiefdom to Vacate Our Farmlands in Breach of Reconciliation Agreement in 1995.” The petitioners asked the governor to demolish the Atyap Chiefdom palace and take it to Samaru Kataf, and force the Atyap to vacate their ancestral lands in Ungwan Gaiya District, which the Zango Urban Development Association falsely claimed to be located in Zangon Kataf Urban District. They also demanded for the creation of a Hausa/Fulani Chiefdom in Atyapland. The Governor of Kaduna State through the Commissioner of Local Government in letter Ref. No. MCA/BM/1/S.07, dated 6th December, 2016, asked the Atyap Council Secretary to investigate the matter and report to the government. In their response the Atyap Traditional Council stated that the so-called Zango Urban Development Association was not known in the Chiefdom, was spreading falsehoods over non-existent “land disputes” and that there was no agreement anywhere about creating a chiefdom for Hausas out of Atyapland.
- In April 2017 the District Head of Zango Urban District requested that His Royal Highness the Agwatyap should look into persistent complaints of some land allegedly being illegally held by some Atyap in Zango Urban District. The District Head said he wanted the matters of complaints to be settled permanently. Accordingly, the Agwatyap appointed a committee chaired by AVM Ishaya Shekarri (Rtd), on which the Zangon Kataf Urban District nominated eleven members, including the District Head and Professor Kabiru Mato. A Sub-Committee on land ownership identification was set up by the main committee. When Professor Kabir Mato saw the spurious names being submitted by some of the Hausas of Zango Urban who climed to own land outside Zangon Kataf Urban District, he advised that verification should be done. This led to the appointment of a Verification Sub-committee. Every claimant was asked to go and stand by his piece of land. The Verification Sub-committee had completed the exercise in Ungwan Gaiya District, and it was found that the Hausas had sold virtually all their farmlands. It was when the Sub-Committee was to move to Zonzon District that the uprooting of crops took place at Gidan Zaki, two kilometres outside the boundary of Zango Urban District. There had never previously been any contest over Gidan Zaki lands. In fact, there is no contiguity between Gidan Zaki District and Zango Urban District. It was clearly an attempt to abort the completion of the land verification exercise, which had hitherto been done peacefully and amicably. Hausas going to uproot crops at Gidan Zaki was calculated to start a confrontation, which fortunately, was nipped before it escalated.
- Since 2017 a pattern has been established, whereby whenever agreement has been reached over any issue and the agreement put in writing and signed by the Hausa living in Zangon Kataf town and the Atyap, some persons would later come from outside Zangon Kataf LGA and instigate the Hausa to repudiate the agreement. Also since 2017, there have been deliberate provocative killings including brutal cold-blooded slaughtering of Atyap to provoke reactions. Those killed were:
(1). Victor Daniel Bobai
(2). Constance Bulus
(3). Monday Tyokpat
(4). Simon Dariya
They were gunned down by Fulanis at Samaru Kataf market on Tuesday 17 January, 2017.
(5). Danladi Yunana, shot and killed at Kurmin Masara on 20th April, 2018.
(6). Bako Laah Khajiit, battered to death on his farm at Majuju, Ungwan Gaiya, on 6/10/2019.
(7). Jonathan Yahaya (Agwatyap’s younger brother), slaughtered on his farm at Magamiya on 10/11/2019.
(8). Tabat Mba Pama, slaughtered at Gan Gora by two Fulani men he had conveyed on his motor bike on 7/12/2019.
(9). Miss Priscilla Nicodemus, shot and killed at Gan Gora market on 17/1/2020.
(10). Miss Bridget Yashim, shot and killed at Gan Gora market on 17/1/2020
(11). Laraba Namiji, killed on her farm at Magamiya on 12/3/2020.
Not one of these murders was diligently investigated and prosecuted.
- The Atyap Traditional Council has always taken concrete steps to maintain the peace in the Chiefdom, despite several provocative, disloyal and disrespectful statements and actions targeted at the person of His Royal Highness the Agwatyap. His Royal Highness has bent over backward to engage personally with those attacking his person and desecrating the Atyap Traditional Institution. Even in the face of the various provocations and continued killing innocent people in Atyap Chiefdom, the paramount ruler of the Atyap has not relented in his efforts to maintain peace and harmonious relations in Atyap land.
- In continuation of their provocative actions, on 5th June 2020, there was a skirmish when some Hausa people from Zango town crossed over Zango Urban District and crossed Zonzon District, and went over to Gidan Zaki farmlands about two kilometres away from Zangon Urban District and began uprooting growing yams, cassava and maize from farmlands belonging to the Ma Zaki villagers. The Atyap Traditional Council and the Security Agencies in Zango quickly intervened and amicably settled the matter, which was reported to the Kaduna State government. No one was injured in that incident. Strangely, on 12 June 2020, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association Kaduna State branch issued a press release signed by Ibrahim Bayero Zango claiming that what happened on 11 June 2020 was a crisis over farmland. It is unfortunate for the Kaduna State Government, through Muyiwa Adekeye to repeat the claims by Miyetti Allah, in order to avoid investigating the murder of Yusuf Magagji, just as it had deliberately failed to investigate the eleven previous cold blooded shootings and slaughters of Atyap individuals between 2017 and 2019. It is also clear that by tying the events of 10 and 11 June 2020 to the Cudjoe Commission of 28 years ago, the government is creating an excuse to revisit the dead Cudjoe Commission report of 1992 for reasons best known to them.
- Following the events of 10th and 11th June 2020, Fulani organizations based in Kaduna metropolis, wrote a “History of Zangon Kataf” on 14th June 2020 in which they claimed that a British imposed Hausa/Fulani District Head of Zangon Kataf, posted from Zaria Emirate had “specified a boarder (sic) of 4 miles’ radius, approximately 6.4km for the Hausa Fulani Community of Zangon Kataf in 1927”, which they claim was supposedly documented in a “Zazzau emirate Gazette, (1956).”
- Within 24 hours of receiving this convoluted “history” written by Miyetti Allah containing such bogus land claims, the Kaduna State Government sent a team of officials from KADGIS, who went to Zango town and were met by a group of Hausa persons who took them far into Atyap villages, as far away as four kilometres beyond Zangon Urban delineated land, falsely claiming that all those Atyap villages were on Zango Hausa farmlands. Some Hausa Elders objected to those barefaced falsehoods and withdrew from the exercise. The leader of the team of “surveyors” was the Senior Special Adviser to the Governor in KADGIS, in charge of allocating lands, and now appointed a member of the White Paper drafting committee.
- The obvious intent of these actions by the El Rufai administration is to rubbish the Peace Agreement brokered by Col. Lawal Ja’afar Isa as Governor of Kaduna State in 1995, and find excuses to abrogate all the recommendations of that committee implemented and passed into law and gazetted by previous Governments of Kaduna State, by pretending that nothing has been done on the recommendations of the AVM Muazu Reconciliation Committee. We find it a curious coincidence that since Professor Kabiru Mato, from Zangon Kataf, became Commissioner of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, that the so-called Zango Urban Development Association based in Kaduna, resumed inundating the Kaduna State Government with petitions. The same Professor Kabiru Mato has the dubious distinction of supervising the dismantling of the Southern Kaduna Chieftaincies in 2018 and 2019. Is it a coincidence that Professor Kabiru Mato was in Zangon Kataf on the evening that Mr. Yusuf Magaji was callously slaughtered? It should also be asked whether the Kaduna State Government questioned Professor Kabiru Mato on why he took the COVID-19 palliatives meant for the entire Zangon Kataf Local Government Area to Zangon Kataf town, from where he distributed them, instead of to Zonkwa, the Local Government Headquarters, and why he denied the Atyap Wards the palliatives.
- Pretending that all the matters already addressed by previous governments and the resolutions reached and implemented by previous administrations in Kaduna state had not happened, the statement by Mr. Muyiwa Adekeye that the government will do its “utmost to bring to closure” to issues that had supposedly “lingered unresolved”, smacks of a grand scheme against the Atyap. Exhuming the dead letter of the 1992 Cudjoe report and invoking a White Paper on that jaundiced and unrepentantly biased report, makes our fears of sinister motives by the Kaduna State Government quite cogent. Why are they writing a White Paper on the Cudjoe commission report after all its recommendations had been implemented by previous administrations? Our fears are reinforced by the fact that Muyiwa Adekeye’s June 30, 2020 statement claims that there was no White Paper on the Usman Muazu Report, when in fact the Kaduna State Government had on July 4, 2000 publicly announced that it would faithfully implement the decisions in the Kaduna State Government White Paper on the AVM Usman Muazu Report. Why then are they writing another White Paper 25 years after the original White Paper was written?
From the foregoing it is manifestly clear that the El-Rufai Government of Kaduna State has no justifiable reason to set up another White Paper Drafting Committee when;
(i) The recommendations of the Justice Rahila Cudjoe Commission have been fully implemented.
(ii) The Government of Kaduna State had already produced a White Paper from the AVM Muazu Reconciliation Committee Report, which past Governments of Kaduna State have been implementing since 1995.
(iii) The only outstanding issues on this White Paper are:
(a) The actualisation of the Buffer Zone
(b) The actualisation of the Irrigation Project
(c) Actualisation of the Atak Jei Residential Layout which was produced and approved on 12th April 2010 by the former Governor of Kaduna State which will foster integration in the Community as envisaged by the AVM Usman Muazu Committee.