Penultimate Tuesday proved an emotional day as the leadership of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), led by its President, Hon Jonathan Asake, visited the Mercy and Kurmin Masara camps for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State. SIMON REEF MUSA reports on a trip that was hinged on providing succor to the vulnerable
The Mercy Camp in Zonkwa, headquarters of the Zangon Kataf LGA, turned famous when attacked communities turned the area into a refugee camp to provide assistance to victims of renewed violence in Atyap chiefdom. Having served and provided temporal shelter for over 3,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), earnest efforts are now embarked by individuals, churches and philanthropic organizations towards assisting displaced persons rebuild their homes.
The United Baptist Church, Kaduna, had chosen penultimate Tuesday to commence the distribution of building materials to IDPs whose homes, not less than 166, had been destroyed in the violent upheavals that rocked several villages in Atyap chiefdom, leading to the destruction of lives and property. Before now, the Mercy Camp has served as a refuge point for IDPs who had fled their homes in search of security and shelter from murderous gangs of bandits. As efforts were intensified to rein in the rampaging violence that was ripping across the nooks and crannies of Atyap land, the humanitarian crisis took a frightening dimension, with fleeing villagers placed in dilemma.
Arising from the lackluster attitude of both the Kaduna State and Federal Government in providing relief materials for preys caught in the web of the renewed bloody crisis, church organisations and other humanitarian agencies rose to close the gap in assisting distressed citizens that were under the constant threats of blood-thirsty killers.
On the face of what seemed to be a total neglect to the plight of the displaced persons, SOKAPU, led by Hon Jonathan Asake, took to the frontlines in calling global and national attention to the gripping bloodbath sweeping through attacked communities in Atyap chiefdom.
As SOKAPU was fighting hard to tackle the humanitarian crisis that was threatening to assume a frightening dimension, agents of state, especially indigenes of Southern Kaduna were selling the narrative that the crisis was communal clashes as both the Fulani invaders and the Atyap natives were all engaged in criminal actions against one another.
The leadership of SOKAPU recently returned to Zonkwa to identify with victims and offer yet another succour. Penultimate Tuesday, the leadership of the United Baptist Church that is based in Kaduna also turned up at the Mercy Camp to donate no fewer than 900 bags of cement and 50 bundles of zinc to aid displaced persons rebuild their destroyed homes.
In a colorful ceremony attended by the representatives of the Agwom Bajju, His Royal Highness Nuhu Bature, and the representatives of the Royal Highness of the Agwom Akulu, His Royal Highness Yohannah Sidi Kukah, among other dignitaries, the camp’s captain, Rev Gambo Waziri, expressed appreciation to faith-based organisations and other spirited bodies for identifying with victims of violence.
“This Mercy Camp started with less than 300 IDPs on the first day. However, on the second day, this number jumped to 900, and by the third day, the camp was catering for 3,000 IDPs.
“Government, especially the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has not done anything to provide succour for IDPs in Southern Kaduna,” said the camp’s commandant.
The person in charge of the Building Committee that has the mandate to identify beneficiaries for these items, Elder Barnabas Daniel, disclosed that most of the items to be distributed were largely donated by the Kaduna-based United Baptist Church.
“Let me inform everyone that most of the items being given out today came from the United Baptist Church. There are other donations from groups like Southern Kaduna singles, among others. In total, we are sharing no fewer than 940 bags of cement to beneficiaries that were attacked in various towns and villages.
“I appeal to beneficiaries to exercise patience and note that none of them will leave here without receiving what is due to every affected family,” Elder Daniel assured some of the IDPs who had turned up to witness the occasion.
Chairman of the Zangon Kataf Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Jonathan Nkom welcomed both persons who had travelled to witness the occasion to be hopeful that peace was possible.
“It is unfortunate that some of these people who once were living peacefully in their homes have been displaced and now squatting with either relations or living in this camp.
“We are aware that some of their relations have come to relieve the camp by opting to take care of some of these displaced persons affected in the crisis. Let me assure that even though it may seem impossible to see to the end of this crisis, I want to tell you that God who sits on the throne will not allow anyone of you to go without a testimony of his mercies and kindness,” he declared.
Speaking on behalf of the Agwom Bajju, the Wazirin Bajju, Chief Anthony Didam, thanked both the United Baptist Church and SOKAPU for identifying with the tragedies that have befallen many communities in Atyap Chiefdom. Apart from expressing the hope that such a tragedy would never reoccur, he called on all critical stakeholders to rise up and unite in a bid to stop further human carnage.
The monarch called on other good-spirited bodies to come to the aid of the victims whose means of livelihoods have been destroyed, adding that when kind people rise up to assist other in distress, solutions are always found.
Addressing the gathering, the President of SOKAPU expressed dismay and sadness over the violence that are being visited on Southern Kaduna communities and called on the people not to be discouraged, adding, “It is unfortunate that since the fresh wave of violence swept across many communities in Atyap Chiefdom in Zangon Kataf LGA, no fewer than 166 buildings have been destroyed. Money is now required to assist affected members of our communities return to their sacked villages.
“The challenges of insecurity is not exclusive to these areas, as I speak to you, communities in Kajuru LGA cannot return to their towns and villages as their attackers are still occupying their homes,” Asake lamented.
Calling on the people not to give up against the backdrop of challenges confronting them, the SOKAPU leader expressed enthusiasm that a new dawn is set to commence for Southern Kaduna communities. Hon Asake also announced a donation of 10 bundles of zinc and many bags of cement, apart from clothing and some food items, to support the initiative of the United Baptist Church. At the end of the event, Hon Asake and a representative of the church formally handed over some of the items to various beneficiaries.
With the event over, the SOKAPU team headed to Zonzon district where it donated food items, clothing and other materials to about 72s living in a primary school in Kurmin Masara.
Welcoming the team to the camp, the commandant, Rev Luka Kigbu, applauded the Hon Asake-led SOKAPU of identifying with the people and standing in stout defence of Southern Kaduna communities.
“We are happy that we are seeing the SOKAPU President today, having listened to the patriotic disposition of his leadership of the Union in defence of our people through various media outlets. Our prayer is always with you.
“We have about 72 IDPs in this camp after about 33 persons were killed during attacks in Zonzon District. We are short of words in expressing our joy at your coming. We find it hard to understand why our people were hacked to death without any form of provocation. We call on SOKAPU and other leaders of our communities continue calling attention of the world to our deplorable plight,” the camp’s commandant pleaded.
The District Head of Zonzon, Engr. David Usman Kazah, wondered why both the state and Federal Government have neglected the only IDP camp in Kurmin Masara in his district. He pleaded with leaders of Southern Kaduna and prominent sons and daughters of the Atyap chiefdom to come to the aid of the people whose future has been ruined due to incessant attacks.
Speaking at the occasion, Hon Asake called on the IDPs in Kurmin Masara to remain hopeful and pray for better days ahead.
Hon Asake maintained that the purpose of the visit was to donate food and other items to cushion pains associated with their conditions, saying, “There’s nothing we can adequately do to completely wipe away your tears and solve the dilemma you now find yourselves. Our presence here today is to identify with you during this moment of grief. We pray that the Almighty God grant you the strength to bear the pains of your present conditions.
“It is quite painful to see the dehumanization of our people and the violence unleashed on our communities without any form of provocations. We shall continue to alert the world on the genocide going on in our communities and rally succour to assist those who are victims of these attacks.
“As I have always said, resolving the southern Kaduna crisis requires justice for our communities. Let no one deceive you that these attacks are communal clashes. They are attacks unlashed on our people to dispose them of their lands and rob us of our existence.
“We must never despair in this present moments as the Almighty God who enthrones justice shall soon speak in our defence and cause and change our tragic story into an inspiring song,” Hon Asake enthused.
Also speaking, the 1st Vice President, Mr Dio Maisamari, who is also the Chairman of the Adara Development Association (ADA), appealed to the IDPs to remain vigilant and be prayerful as God and SOKAPU will never abandon them.
“I know how difficult it is to stay the cause in moments such as this. We cannot afford to lose hope as our victory is nearer than we think. With unity and steadfastness, Southern Kaduna people will soon witness an end to the continued bloodshed unleashed on our communities,” declared Maisamari who was detained for over three months with some Adara elders. The courts would later set them free on grounds of lack of evidence to prosecute them.
While addressing the IDPs, the National Public Relations Officer of SOKAPU, Mr Luka Biniyat, lampooned some misguided elders of Atyap Chiefdom for selling the narrative that what was happening in the chiefdom was communal clashes and not mindless murderous expedition of criminal bandits determined to exterminate our communities.
“We must be careful not to allow these dishonest elders to sell these wrong narratives to serve their greed. As the President of SOKAPU rightly pointed out, we in Southern Kaduna love peace, and we are never known for trouble making. We are calling on government to stop these mindless murderers from killing our people. We are pleading with relevant security agencies of government to stop these coldblooded killers from further unleashing terror on our defenseless people in order to make these blood-thirsty murderers discontinue creating oceans of blood in our communities,” Biniyat said.