NEWSDAILYNIGERIA: The Atyap Community Development Association,(ACDA) has faulted the report by the Sector commander, Operation Safe Haven in Southern Kaduna, Brigadier General Timothy Opurum on the spate of attacks and killings in Atyap land , Zangon Kataf local government area of Kaduna state.

ACDA described the 2023 First Quarter Security Report presented to the Kaduna State Government by the Sector Commander, as unbalanced and economical with true happenings in the area.

Addressing a World Press conference at Samaru- Kataf on Monday, ACDA President, Mr Shmuel T. Achi further lamented the alleged complicity of the military in the attacks, with a call on those charged with the protection of lives and property to do the needful.

Below is the full text…

TEXT OF A WORLD PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE ATYAP COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION (ACDA) ON THE PERSISTENT ATTACKS AND KILLINGS IN ATYAP LAND, ZANGON KATAF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, KADUNA STATE AND THE BIASED SECURITY REPORT PRESENTED BY THE SECTOR COMMANDER, OPERATION SAFE HAVEN IN SOUTHERN KADUNA, BRIGADIER GENERAL TIMOTHY OPURUM.

Good morning gentlemen of the Press.
I on behalf of Atyap heartily welcome you to this World Press Conference.

It is with regret that we are addressing Nigerians and the international communities at large, on the persistent and recurring attacks and killings in some communities of Atyap land of Zangon Kataf Local Government of Kaduna State by armed Fulani herdsmen who have enjoyed decades of peaceful coexistence with our communities, but have now set out on a mission to displace these communities and take over the lands.

Gentlemen of the Press, it is regrettable to state for the records that defenseless communities in Atyap Land have been suffering selective killings of Atyap since 2017 before the sustained attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen in 2020.

Recently, Atyap land has dominated the headlines for the wrong reasons following renewed attacks in Ungwan Wakili, Lagson, Atakjei and Runji where 70 people have been killed, including a 5-year old boy who was beheaded. As at the last count, 20 villages have been displaced, 18 villages burnt down, while 518 people killed with thousands of victims who have taken refuge across many communities from 2017 till date.

The Military personnel drafted to provide security in the area are not helping matters. Instead of performing their primary assignment of securing all lives and properties of the communities, they are selective by taking side with the herdsmen. This is evident in the 2023 First Quarter Security Report presented to the Kaduna State Government by the Sector Commander, Operation Safe Haven in Southern Kaduna, Brigadier General Timothy Opurum on the recent killings in Atyap land.

In his doctored submission, the Sector Commander gave an unbalanced, lopsided report and was very economical with facts which prompted the Governor to note “…with concern the continued failure of the traditional and community leaders in Zangon Kataf Chiefdom to prevent resort to self-help by recalcitrant youths, and assure you that we will take some actions to send a message in this regard.”

For the avoidance of doubt and to put things in proper perspectives, we hereby straighten the records on some of the issues he raised below.

THE ISSUES RAISED IN BRIGADIER OPURUM’S REPORT.

The Sector Commander, Brigadier General Timothy Opurum, deliberately failed, neglected and/or refused to highlight the contributions of the Traditional Council in Atyap land towards maintaining peace in the Chiefdom, which facts are known to him and other security agencies in the area. The report did not convey the positive role played so far by the Traditional Council and other community leaders in dissipating the conflicts.

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These contributions include visiting all homes of victims of attacks and killings in Atyap land, sponsoring of conferences/workshops on peaceful co-existence for Atyap, Hausa and Fulani youth, women and security operatives in Atyap land with the Kaduna State Hon. Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, international and national peace advocates like Dr. Salim Musa, Barr. Pricilla Ankut to mention but a few, in full attendance, co-operation with the Kaduna State Peace Commission on several peace advocacy missions to Atyap, Hausa and Fulani youth and women groups in Atyap land, ensuring the permanent removal of all road blocks by youth in Atyap land, the setting up and funding of the Atyap Chiefdom Peace, Security and Partnership Committee made up of Atyap, Hausa and Fulani youth and women, provision of logistic and human support to operatives of Operation Safe Havens, Police and State Security Service etc.

In fact, His Excellency the Governor of Kaduna State, had on many occasions commended the Agwatyap for these bold and practical actions towards maintaining peace in Atyap land as reported in some national dailies like The Sun Nigeria of 25th August 2020; Daily Trust of 28th August 2020; and The Cable (online) of 25th August 2020. We were taken aback when we heard his comment after the Sector Commander’s report.

Brig. Gen. Opurum deliberately refused to see and state the known facts that the influx of many dangerous lawless Fulani terrorists into Zangon Kataf Urban Hausa settlement and their attendant criminal activities in the last 3 years as responsible for the brutal attacks on mostly innocent and defenseless women and children in Atyap villages.

It is a known fact among security agencies in our Atyap land that most attacks on our villages and people are planned and coordinated by these Fulani terrorists in Zangon Kataf Urban Hausa settlement. However, for reasons best known to him, the Sector Commander instead of calling a spade a spade chose to dwell on unproven allegation of cow poisoning by unidentified alleged Atyap persons and places in order to blackmail the Atyap and appease his pay masters.

The Sector Commander’s presentation consciously ignored the fact that it is only in Zangon Kataf Urban Hausa settlement that lawless and dangerous Fulani migrant terrorists are harbored by their Hausa host in Zangon Kataf LGA with their attendant criminal activities spreading to our villages as the major reason attacks are predominantly in our Chiefdom.

His Excellency and security agencies should direct and ensure the evacuation of these migrant terrorists Fulani to where they came from, as was done with Almajiris, and attacks in Atyap land will be a thing of the past. This is the practice in an exclusively Fulani settlement of Laduga in Zangon Kataf of Kaduna State. Why this has not happened so far beats our imagination and we wonder what the Federal and State Governments seek to achieve by not ordering this. Could this be a confirmation of a planned genocide on Atyap race?

The Sector Commander raised the issue of the killing of a young Fulani boy in Ungwan Juju [Ma Juju] which was highly condemned by all of us in the Chiefdom. His Highness, the ACDA and the District Head of the area met, condoled the parents of the boy and pleaded with the Fulani not to attack innocent people in the guise of vengeance as everything was to be done to fish out the perpetrators of the dastardly act.

The world should note that the Brigadier General knows that before the unfortunate and criminal killing of that boy, Samaila Jacob was murdered on the 15/02/2023 and Musa Bako in the same month from the same Ung. Juju by some Fulani. In fact, his men were part of the people that evacuated the corpses. Why were these gruesome murders not reported by the Sector Commander in his report? We do not understand why the Sector Commander opted to be economical with the fact in Ung. Juju.

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The Sector Commander alleged that the poisoning of over 70 cows was responsible for the renewed attacks, killing and burning of Atyap and their properties by Fulani. This came to us as a surprise because he knows of a standing agreement in Atyap land that any proven case of cow poisoning against any community, such community shall be responsible for replacing such cows. In the same coin the owner of any cows that destroys any farm shall bear full responsibility for such destruction. With this agreement, it was mischief of the highest order at work when the Brig. General justified the murder, killing and burning of innocent and armed less Atyap women, children and men and their properties on the basis of false allegations of cow poisoning.

Furthermore, the cattle allegedly poisoned were from Zangon Kataf Urban settlement only, while those of the Fulani living in our villages are not affected. It will interest the world to know that it is the Hausa in Zangon Kataf Urban settlement that engage in dry season farming and the Fulani cattle are fond of destroying their farms around the river. One particular case in question around the General Hospital, Zangon Kataf where 7 cows ate spinach (Alehu) from a Hausa farm and died but was alleged that it was Kataf people that did that.

The Sector Commander was not saying the truth when he reported that the killings in Ung. Wakili were at the outskirt of the village. In fact the killings were carried out right inside their homes neigboring the security post at Ung. Wakili. The discovering of blood stained military uniforms and suspected military personnel involvement prompted a meeting between the Zangon Kataf Local Government Council Chairman, the Traditional Council and the Military Command from Jos which led to the immediate transfer of two suspected military personnel. This is a confirmation that Brig. Gen. Opurum has compromised the security in Atyapland.

It is also surprising for the Brig. General to say that the attack in Runji (Sankwab) was due to the hostility of the youths from the area. However, he ignored to report that 3 days before the Runji attack, a man by name Sunday Ibrahim Takaichi was attacked and killed by the same Fulani grazing in Runji. On sighting the villagers coming to give a helping hand, they ran away leaving their cattle. The cattle were evacuated by the soldiers to aid their investigation of the murder of Sunday. It is most unfortunate that the outcome of this investigation was not reported by the Sector Commander till date.

CONCLUSION

We believe the Governor was misled by the biased, shallowed and lopsided briefing of the out-going Sector Commander. However, our balanced and objective naration, laced with logical facts as they occurred above, clearly shows that the traditional ruler ship and community leaders in Atyap land are working very hard to maintain peace. His Excellency, Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, while receiving the Communique of one of the Peace Summit from the Agwatyap and other noble peace initiatives being put in place by him towards sustainable peace building in Atyap land, on 25th August 2020 in Government House said:

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“Our government commends the resolve by the communities to respect the right of any citizens to live in peace within the Atyap Chiefdom and applauds the resolution to settle disputes through lawful processes and institutions”. The Governor also “called on every person of goodwill to support the Atyap Chiefdom’s strong efforts to bring its communities together and stop the bloodshed and destruction of property,” noting that “what the communities and leadership of Atyap Chiefdom have started is the type of grassroots ownership of the responsibility for peace and harmony that the government has advocated which initiative is more beyond the deployment of police and military forces.”

We have no option than to believe that it is the biased report of Brigadier General Opurum that made His Excellency to suddenly changed gear. This notwithstanding, our outgoing Governor should know that as the Chief Security Officer of Kaduna State, which includes Atyap land, he has the duty to secure lives and properties of residents of the State. He should therefore not transfer his failure to secure lives and properties to traditional rulers in the State. His Excellency cannot abdicate his responsibilities.

In fact, the Governor in demonstrating his appreciation and act of goodwill, promised to cede to the Agwatyap’s demand to; construct the road linking Ungwan Wakili to Kwaku and Gora, as well as the road linking Zango, Tangjei and Ungwan Jaba, including Zangon Urban roads. He also promised to construct a bridge linking Gidan Zaki and Manyi Agwhui, owing to the Agwatyap’s leadership role in initiating peace in his Chiefdom.

No doubt, the Atyap people still looks forward to the Governor fulfilling these promises even as a parting gift, as he prepares his handing over notes on May 29, 2023. And without mincing words, it should be noted for the records that the Atyap land is yet to benefit any project by the State Government since its inception in 2015.

Gentlemen of the press, the persistent attacks are likened to those of 2019 and are the handwork of some criminal elements in our midst that need to be apprehended and punished in accordance with the provisions of our criminal law by the security agencies.

We hereby call on the attention of the world and people of goodwill to know that the systematic attacks, killings and burning going on in Atyap by armed militias with the collaboration of the local Fulani, aided and sheltered by the Hausa community in Zangon Urban, is all aimed at taking over our land which we shall resist with the last drop of our blood. We call on our people to exercise their natural, fundamental and constitutional right of self defence against any further unprovoked attacks. Enough is enough. We also want to make it very clear that henceforth any attack on any of our communities will attrack a total no go area for rearing cows.

Finally, we call on the incoming administration to strive to ensure inclusive governance and improve security and development in Atyap land and many other areas ravaged by killings in the state. We are still hopeful that one day, we will still live together with our brothers, the Hausa and the Fulani in our land as it has always been.
Thank you for your time and support as always.

Signed: Samuel T. Achi, President,
Atyap Community Development Association (ACDA).

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