Traditional Stools’ Reforms: Southern Kaduna Communities Berate el-Rufai



1 August, 2017

His Excellency,

Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai,

Governor of Kaduna State,

Sir Kashim Ibrahim House,


Your Excellency,


The Southern Kaduna Autochthones Community Development Associations Forum (CDAs Forum) met on August 1, 2017, to deliberate on your administration’s on-going moves to “restructure” the traditional institutions in Kaduna State. The CDAs Forum became aware of certain documents emanating from the Governor’s Office, Kaduna State, conveying “the decision of the Governor of Kaduna State” to restructure the traditional institutions in Kaduna State. The first is a letter Ref. No. SSG/KDS/508 dated 20th June, 2017, signed for the Secretary to the State Government by Abdullahi Sani, Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Affairs and Special Service, addressed to some individuals appointing them into a thirteen-member “Committee to Review the Existing Chieftaincy System in Kaduna State”. A second set of documents consists of circulars titled “Appointment of Committee to Review the Existing Chieftaincy System in the State” dated 24th July, 2017 from Sub-Committee on Nomenclature, and addressed to individual Traditional Rulers in the state.


The first letter under reference above, states quite clearly your decision as Governor of Kaduna State to do the following, as contained in the Terms of Reference (TORs) of the main committee:

Change “the existing nomenclature of the graded chiefs which emphasizes ethnic identity”, and replace it with “new ones based on town/location of the chiefdom”.

Restructure, merge and abrogate existing chiefdoms and emirates, through what you call “regrouping” and “alternative system of boundary delineation between Emirate/Chiefdom”.

To transfer and place “the staff of District and Village Administration under the control and supervision of the Local Government Service Commission (LGSC)…” apparently to enhance their career progression.

The role of the Committee is therefore restricted to “proposing” and “advising” the Governor on how to carry out the above decisions Your Excellency has already taken. Since no Community sent complaints to the Governor complaining about their names, the conclusion is inevitable that you personally desire to change the names of our chieftaincies because they do not conform to your view that the Southern Kaduna people must not be identified with their traditional institutions and the ancestral lands belonging to their peoples for thousands of years.

To show that the Committee is just for window-dressing, the Sub-Committee on Nomenclature, apparently without reference to the main committee, wrote to the Traditional Rulers directing them to forward new names of “their” chiefdoms based on towns and not the entire territory covered by the Chiefdoms. What is peculiar about this circular are the reasons given for the proposed change of names.

The circular states that because the people “residing” in the chiefdoms are not only the ethnic group whose name the chiefdom bears, but also contain Hausa, Fulani, Yorubas, Igbos etc, the Traditional Councils must change the names of their chiefdoms to names of towns.

That the change of name must be made because it reflects ethnic identity.

The Traditional Rulers, some of who received their letters on 28th July, and many of who were yet to receive their letters as the CDAs Forum was meeting, were given a deadline of 31st July to change their names.


The actions of the Sub-Committee on Nomenclature show unequivocally that the Governor is giving directives to the Sub-Committees to implement his obviously preconceived and predetermined agenda even before the main committee completes its assignment.

CDAs that attended meetings of their Traditional Councils observed that nowhere were the various ethnic groups settled within such chiefdoms complaining about the names by which the chiefdoms are known and called. It is the Governor who is complaining “on behalf” of the “resident” ethnic groups like Hausa, Fulani, Igbo etc.

Governor El-Rufai is pretending to be ignorant of the history of the Middle Belt peoples, including the Southern Kaduna peoples. In the Middle Belt the name of the ethnic nationality is the same as their geographical and political territory; the ancestral lands bear the names of the ethnic group. Hence, Tarok land, Igbirra land, Nupe land, Tiv land, Idoma land, Igala land, Atyap land, Bajju land, Gure land, Kurama land, Gbagyi land, etc. The king or chief of the ethnic group is also the chief of the territory, and the chief also bears the name of both the ethnic nationality and the land. Hence we have Tor Tiv, Ochi’Idoma, Ponzhi Tarok, Attah Igala, Etsu Nupe, Ohinoyi of Igbirra, Sa Gbagyi, Agwam Atyap, Agwam Bajju, Bugwam Kurmi, Pukurma Piriga, Oegwam Oegorok, Kpop Gwong, Kpop Ham etc. Governor El-Rufai knows these facts very well, but objects to the reality of any ethnic nationality having ancestral land which bears its name, and whose people are autochthonous to the land that bears their name. Mr. Governor believes that simply because the Hausa States were known by the names of their capital cities, everyone must abandon their history and become Hausanised. Have you forgotten that Oyo, Ekiti-Parapo, Eko, Ijesa etc were ethnic groups before the nomenclature of “Yoruba” came into use fairly recently?

It is obvious to us that at the end of your exercise of renaming chiefdoms, our chiefdoms will not only lose their names, our ethnic nationalities would also lose their identities, which you have declared anathema because they are “ethnic identities”. You want to force us to have Sarkin Zonkwa instead of Agwam Bajju; Agom Adara will be replaced by Sarkin Kachia; Kpop Gwong will become Sarkin Fadan Kagoma; Kpop Ham will become Sarkin Kwoi; Res Tsam will become Sarkin Fadan Chawai; Sa Gbagyi will become Sarkin Chikun; Bugam Akurmi will become Sarkin Yarkasuwa etc. Thereafter, those chiefdoms not merged with others will lose their identity and become Hausanized. Mr. Governor will then move to appoint his preferred Hausa and Fulani “residents” of the newly named chiefdoms to become the rulers.

Your Excellency, we must state the unvarnished truth that your purpose of coming to Kaduna State is to “vanquish” and “destroy” the people of Southern Kaduna for your own irrational or jaundiced reasons. In June 2017, you sacked some 400 District Heads and over 4000 Village Heads in Kaduna State. In your usual heartless and brutal way of dealing with the people of Kaduna State, you first stopped the salaries and allowances of the chiefs for two years, and then turned round to claim that their emoluments were a drain on the resources of the local governments. Two facts contradicted your false claim on the chiefs’ salaries being a drain on local government finances. First, the State Government under your control has completely taken over the funds of the Local Governments from the Federation Account Allocation, to the extent where no Local Government Council can execute a single project without your personal approval. Second, you as Governor of Kaduna State, spent billions of naira of our scarce funds to pay Fulani herdsmen, who have used those funds to continue to attack the Southern Kaduna people. The illegal, unlawful and callous and mass sacking of our chiefs was the first step in your plan to attack, deface, devalue and humiliate the people of Southern Kaduna by denigrating the symbols of our identity, being the traditional institutions of the autochthonous ethnic nationalities of Southern Kaduna.

Your plan all along was to abrogate the Chiefdoms created by previous administrations in Kaduna State since 1995. Since the colonial days many heroes and patriots of Southern Kaduna fought and died for the recognition of their traditional institutions, which the British colonialists had subordinated to the Hausa-Fulani emirates and rulers. You would have been advised that the people who had fought bloody battles for a century to reclaim their chieftaincies and kingdoms would not take the outright abrogation of the chiefdoms lightly. You therefore decided to first of all test the ground by starving the chiefs and their families, and followed that vicious action with sacking the beleaguered lower Chiefs. To use your own words, your current “restructuring” exercise is targeted at the graded chiefs through the abrogation of the chiefdoms through “boundary delineation” and “regrouping” of chiefdoms.

You have stated very often that “there are no indigenes in Kaduna State”, but “residents”. You have demonstrated your disdain for the indigenes by importing people from other states to serve as Chiefs of Staff, Permanent Secretaries, Consultants, Managing Directors, Advisers, Special Assistants and sundry other “experts” to run our Ministries, Departments and Agencies.  You have now decided to change the names of our chieftaincies by removing the names of our people from the chieftaincies, by replacing the names of the owners of the chieftaincies with colonial “Zangos” where your own Hausa Fulani brothers live. Logically, you will then declare that since the chieftaincies are now locational, anyone resident in those locations can become the chief. The Kamuku and Gbagyi of Birnin Gwari will then lose their chiefdoms to the Hausa Fulani residents who have recently migrated there through the power of the governor.

Following your planned restructuring and regrouping of the chiefdoms in Southern Kaduna, on the bases of what you term “due cognizance of long standing historical antecedents” in the TORs of your committee, return the Southern Kaduna people to the rule of the Hausa Fulani of the Zangos. Hence, Koro and Jere Chiefdoms will be regrouped under the Sarkin Kagarko; Kurama Chiefdom will be merged with and placed under the Hausa chief of Saminaka; Piriga Chiefdom will be merged with and subjugated to the Fulani Sarki of Lere; the Adara Chiefdom, after being renamed will be placed under the Hausa District Head of Kachia; the Sa Gbagyi institution, after being renamed Sarkin Kaduna, will be replaced by a Hausa ruler from Kaduna North; all the chiefdoms of Sanga will be regrouped under a Hausa Sarki in Gwantu. Gwong, Fantswam, Nyenkpa, and Kaninkon will now be placed under the Emir of Jema’a, who would be renamed Sarkin Kafanchan. Kumana Chiefdom will be “returned” to Kauru chiefdom, and Takkad chiefdom will similarly be “returned” to Moroa (or Manchok) chiefdom, for “long standing historical antecedents”. There is no other outcome that will result from your restructuring and regrouping of the chiefdoms, effectively taking back Kaduna State to the colonial situation in honour of your love for “long standing historical antecedents”.

It has also been pointed out that in your “alternative system of boundary delineation between Emirate/Chiefdom in the state”, certain chiefdoms, without their prior agreement, will be compelled to “cede” territory to other chiefdoms for reasons of “peculiarities of the people within a Chiefdom/Emirate”.

Your Excellency, the Governor, you declared at the beginning of your power trip administration that Southern Kaduna people, especially the Christians, constitute only one-third of the population of Kaduna State. You tried to “prove” this lie by allocating only 5 out of 15 Commissioners to Southern Kaduna people. Right now there is an on-going exercise by the government, using northern-based NGOs, to produce a new list of towns and villages in Kaduna State. A document titled “Kaduna State Coded Settlement List” produced by a Chigari Foundation, lists hundreds of non-existent Hausa and Fulani “settlements” in every Local Government Area in Southern Kaduna, all in order to “prove” that Hausa and Fulani are the majority population in the area. This will then be used to justify the government’s subsequent handing over of our chiefdoms to the Hausa and Fulani once the chiefdoms cease to be identified by the names of the ethnic groups.

Your Excellency the Governor sacked the District and Village Chiefs without consultation with the State House of Assembly, and you did so even without abrogating the existing legal gazettes published by government pursuant to the existing State Laws of 1991, 2003, and 2005 on the Appointment of Chiefs in Kaduna State. Knowing that only the State House of Assembly can change the law, you, as Governor, chose to issue circulars abrogating legally instituted Districts and Villages. You have ignored court orders revoking the abrogation of Districts and Village Areas. In the same way, you have decided to “restructure” the traditional institutions without taking the matter to the State Executive Council or the State House of Assembly. In doing so, you also attacked the Hausa Fulani traditional rulers whom you purport to love.

In most LGAs in Southern Kaduna and almost all the Chiefdoms there are several ethnic groups with their distinct languages, customs, traditions and religions. There are ethnic groups that are found in just one or three villages. All they ever yearned for was their Village or District Heads to protect their names, customs and their ancestral lands. Contrary to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Minorities, to protect our diverse cultural heritage, our right to have our traditions and religions preserved and protected by the State, your administration is intent on destroying our cultures and traditions. The creation of districts and villages removed many areas of conflict, but your actions will most likely reintroduce the areas of conflict by abolishing the villages and districts.

The level of Governor El-Rufai’s mischief apparently knows no bounds. When you decided to abrogate the Districts and Village Areas, the Royal Fathers strongly advised you against such a retrogressive move. When you were adamant in your chosen course the Royal Fathers gave you three options: retain the status quo; leave the District and Village Heads without salaries and another administration would to revisit the matter; allow the communities to have their chiefs and let their communities bear the costs. You flatly refused. However, a few days after the sack of the chiefs, when citizens of the state began to react, your paid propagandists falsely claimed that the Royal Fathers had been “consulted” and that they were in “agreement” with your government’s highhanded actions. Now you are insisting that the chiefs must write to “suggest” new names; thereafter your administration, through your personal E-rats, will claim that the Traditional Councils gave the new names of the chiefdoms.

Your Excellency the Governor, you want to rewrite the history of Southern Kaduna autochthonous ethnic nationalities, for which you have set up a Sub-Committee on Historical Antecedents, made up of your minions, politicians and civil servants. This is to give credence to the wild pseudo-histories that your mischievous E-rats located in Government House, and falsely claiming to be speaking for “Hausa-Fulani”, are churning out about the people of Southern Kaduna. In some of these fabricated histories, it is already being written on social media that the Hausa people came to Atyap land before the Atyap, and that it was the Hausa of Zangon Katab that found the Atyap living in caves and trees and brought them out and settled them in their present lands. Similarly, another “history” is being written that Kafanchan was “founded” by the Hausa Fulani in 1933 on virgin land on which there were no people. (Kafantswam in Fantswam language means “Land of the Fantswam”, which the Hausa mutilated to “Kafanchan”). This rewriting of history is only a continuation of the false “history” which states that the Kaduna area was a “no man’s land” when Lugard picked it as capital of the Northern Protectorate in 1913. These false histories are being churned out in order to “counter” the authentic history written by professional history professors that have documented that historically, Kaduna is Gbagyi land. Your Excellency’s Committee on Historical Antecedents has thus been set up to merely “validate” these very wild and false pseudo-histories, to “prove” that Hausa and Fulani people are the owners of Southern Kaduna, and that the indigenes “also came to the area”. This was what you publicly stated at Kamaru-Chawai on the 17th November 2016, following the devastating attack and massacre of the Tsam communities of Chawai Chiefdom on 13 November 2016, where you said that there are no indigenes, that every body came from somewhere.

The names our people bear, including the titles of our traditional institutions were not given to us by any government, be it colonial or post-colonial. The British militarily conquered the ethnic nationalities of Southern Kaduna, who called themselves generally Nerzit meaning “Our People”, to distinguish them from Anyio Nwap (People of other tribes) like the Akpat or Kpar (Hausa), Fatta or Fite (Fulani), Igbo, Yoruba etc. The institutions of the Sa, Agwam, Agom, Kpop, Kpukurma, Res etc, which mean King in the various languages, were evolved historically by the various nationalities, which the British subjugated to the emirates, by removing our chiefs, and appointing village heads under Hausa District Heads. The Southern Kaduna people fought and died to recover these institutions. Our people have already begun to abandon the names and identities that the Hausa and British cultural imperialists imposed on them, by taking back and making official the names they call themselves. It is crystal clear that the Governor is out to turn back the clock, by forcing our chiefs to renounce their titles and take on Hausa titles. Even the Fulani are insisting on calling their chiefs Ardo or Ardoen. But Governor El-Rufai wants the Southern Kaduna chiefs to answer the titles of “Sarki”, which is the Hausa for chief or king. The governor wants our people to deny their identities, and if the chiefs refuse he will either remove them or stop paying them their salaries.

Governor El-Rufai must have sinister intentions for forcing the chiefs to change their titles. As soon as they adopt the titles of “sarki” of towns instead of their ethnic groups, Mr. Governor in the name of his so-called Hausa Fulani kinsmen will declare themselves eligible for the chieftaincy, since it would no longer be exclusive to the members of the ethnic nationality that historically evolved it. This attempt at bastardization and denigration was what caused the bloody riots in Numan, Adamawa State, in 1986, when the Hausa insisted that the title of Homa Bachama must be jettisoned and that the King of the Bachama should be called “Sarkin Numan”. Without waiting for the government to even grant their request the Hausa Fulani arrogantly declared their intention to contest for the stool of the Bachama King. The governor of Kaduna State, who in 2016 declared yourself a governor of and for Fulani people, believes that he can impose Hausa and Fulani rulers on the Southern Kaduna people through this nefarious process.

Your Excellency you have already started changing the boundaries of Local Government Areas without reference to the Federal Government’s States and Local Government Boundaries Commission (Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No. 74, Vol. 84, Lagos, 19th December, 1997, pp. B 705ff), or to the Kaduna State Boundaries Committee, which is statutorily chaired by the Deputy Governor. You unilaterally caused your appointed Sole Administrator in Kachia to illegally adjust local government boundary by purporting to transfer Ladduga District (where the Fulani are subordinate to the Agom Akulu) from Ikulu Chiefdom in Zangon Kataf LGA to Kachia LGA, without reference to the Zangon Kataf LGA Chairman or the Agom Akulu, whose territory Mr. Governor has excised and taken to another chiefdom. Governor El-Rufai is now seeking to retroactively cover his illegal activities in Ladduga by appointing a committee to adjust boundaries in the whole state. Your Excellency has been accused by the Ikulu Development Association of using a fake gazette, which Mobgal Fulbe and Kautal Hore elite Fulani organisations took to the Kaduna State Peace and Reconciliation Committee in 2012 to try and fraudulently “extend” the Kachia Grazing Reserve from its officially gazetted area of 33,411 hectares to 73,411 hectares. The fraudulent and fake gazette was publicly exposed by the then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Kaduna State, who presented the authentic gazette to the Peace and Reconciliation Committee, in front of the Fulani Mobgal Fulbe and Kautal Hore organisations during the Public Hearing. Whereupon the Peace and Reconciliation Committee threw out the fraudulent gazette. It is this very fraudulent “gazette” that you, Governor El-Rufai, are using to illegally extend the Kachia Grazing Reserve, whose present land the Kaduna State Government has not yet paid compensation for to the Ikulu owners.

Mr. Governor may claim that you are implementing your government’s White Paper on the Report of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee, 1st February, 2016, at page 17, on the need to resolve boundary disputes by among other things, demarcating boundaries between chiefdoms, districts and villages. The Terms of Reference and modus operandi of your committee ignores the detailed process which the Report of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee prescribes for resolving boundary disputes, some of which are also contained in the Kaduna State Government White Paper on the Report of the Demarcation of Boundaries Between the Newly-Created Chiefdoms in Kaduna State, August, 2001. Your Committee on Boundary Delineation also ignores the role of the State Boundary Committee, which your White Paper partially captures. The roles prescribed for the Chiefs, Community Organisations, experts like historians, geographers, cartographers, experts in community dialogue, ethnologists, ethnographers, sociologists, surveyors, are all set aside by your committee. Your government accepts in the White Paper on the Report of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee that all boundaries are to be negotiated by the various communities, and upon mutual agreement, documents and maps are to be drawn up and signed by the various parties before they could become binding. Mr. Governor, in your neck-breaking hurry to implement your agenda of abrogating the Chiefdoms of Southern Kaduna, you have jettisoned even the provisions of your own White Paper.


  1. Having observed that:

No communities or group of persons in any Chiefdom or Emirate in Southern Kaduna, or anywhere else in Kaduna State, have complained about the appropriateness of the nomenclatures of their Chiefdom/Emirate;

There are no disagreements by any of the ethnic nationalities, communities and groups within the Chiefdoms/Emirate regarding the titles of our traditional institutions;

No Traditional Council or ethnic nationality have of their own volition requested for change of name of either their Chiefdom or Emirate;

Since the nomenclatures of the Traditional Institutions of our people evolved historically, and since government at no time gave the names and titles that the ethnic nationalities and their traditional institutions are known by;

The Southern Kaduna Autochthonous Ethnic Nationalities hereby reject the Kaduna State Government’s on-going moves to change the names of our Chiefdoms and nomenclatures of our Traditional Institutions for whatever reason or excuse.

  1. Taking cognizance of the fact that:

The administration of Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai has violated the law and due process with regard to boundary adjustment in Kaduna State;

The Governor and the committees he has set up are operating outside the law, to illegally abrogate the legally instituted Chiefdoms through delineating boundaries and regrouping chiefdoms;

The Governor and his servants are using arbitrary powers of coercion, intimidation and psychological torture to compel the traditional rulers to comply with his directives;

The Southern Kaduna Autochthonous Ethnic Nationalities hereby reject the Kaduna State Government’s on-going moves to change boundaries of chiefdoms and regroup chiefdoms, as reckless, dangerous and irresponsible.

  1. Observing that:

Since ethnic nomenclatures have not caused conflict anywhere in Kaduna State;

Governor El-Rufai is encouraging people to begin contesting the legitimacy of the Traditional Institutions under which jurisdictions they live in Kaduna State;

The Governor is instigating non-indigenous groups to aspire to take over the Traditional Institutions of their host communities and subsequently destroy them;

The planned restructuring of traditional institutions in Kaduna is ill-conceived and ill-intentioned by Governor El-Rufai;

The inevitable result of the restructuring, rather than “improve the operations of the Traditional Institution to restore its glory and esteem among the people” as falsely claimed by the Governor, will actually denigrate and devalue the Traditional Institution, and is therefore uncalled for, punitive and retrogressive, and must therefore be jettisoned.

  1. Seeing clearly that:

Governor El-Rufai, in pursuing his agenda to have no indigenes in Kaduna State;

Governor El-Rufai, in seeking to humiliate the traditional institution in Kaduna State in general and Southern Kaduna in particular;

The Governor, in implementing his anti-people agenda through compulsion;

By instigating and opening many avenues for conflicts and crises in Kaduna State, is encouraging people to go into active resistance.

The Southern Kaduna Autochthonous Ethnic Nationalities condemn this high-handed manipulation that could cause break down of the peace, and ask the Governor to dissolve his committees and rescind his directives on the restructuring of the Traditional Institutions.

  1. The CDAs Forum resolved that all Community Development Associations, the organisations that fought for and secured legal approval of their Traditional Institutions by the Kaduna State Government, should urgently meet with their Traditional Councils and write to the Governor of Kaduna State and the Kaduna State House of Assembly, rejecting any change in the nomenclature, boundaries and structures of their Traditional Institutions, in line with the collective resolutions of the CDAs Forum.
  2. We hope that in view of the weightiness of the matters addressed in this letter, His Excellency, Governor El-Rufai’s will respect the views and wishes of the citizens and people of Kaduna State, and not force the peace-loving people of the State to resort to other lawful and peaceful actions to address your administration’s unwarranted assault on the Traditional Institutions in the State.

Yours truly, Leaders of the Autochthonous Southern Kaduna CDAs

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