N900m paid as ransom: Southern Kaduna people chide government on insecurity

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The Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, SOKAPU, has expressed worry on the spate of insecurity, especially within communities in Northern and Middle Belt Regions.

According to SOKAPU, available report shows that about N900 million was paid as ransom by the poor, vulnerable and defenceless people from January to December 2020.

Briefing newsmen in Kaduna, the President of SOKAPU, Mr Jonathan Asake, said that the incessant kidnappings,
gruesome massacre and displacement of indigenous people from their homes had
continued unabated.

Presently, he explained, most communities across the 12 local governments of Southern Kaduna, have reported cases of daily abductions on the road, farms, homes, markets and worship centres where victims have gone through unimaginable torture and relations forced to pay outrageous sums of money as ransom.

He noted that about 143 communities across the local government areas in Southern Kaduna have been completely displaced, with over 160,000 persons, mostly women and children, now living under very harsh and dehumanizing conditions devoid of food, medication and other necessities of life.

Jonathan Asake observed that this undoubtedly has placed Kaduna state as the nation’s capital for kidnappings and abductions.

He lamented that the government of the day in the State and the federal level had continued to appear helpless in their capacity to tackle those challenges and many a time “turned a blind eye to these horrifying atrocities and crimes against humanity,” stressing that the chances of bringing back hope for the despairing communities is becoming
slimmer by the day.

He noted that “it is against this backdrop that the Christmas homily by the Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto
Diocese, Dr Matthew Hassan Kukah, serves as a timely wake-up call on national leadership to confront the monsters of destruction that are committed to the annihilation of the communities.”

The Southern Kaduna people recalled a similar concern raised by a respected General and statesman, philanthropist and former Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (retd), where he observed the incessant killings across communities in Nigeria, particularly in the Middle Belt Region, while observing the non-neutrality of the Nigerian
military, urging communities to rise up and defend themselves.

This clarion call for self-defence by the General which is a constitutional provision and a right for every citizen, according to the President, was perceived negatively by a section of the country which has continued to behave as if they own Nigeria and that other citizens have no
right to criticise the government of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.

According to SOKAPU, “it appears to them, therefore, that comments by Nigerians attract different reactions from the
government, depending on the region, ethnicity and religion of the person making such comments.”

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“It’s sad to note that when persons of core Northern extraction criticize government; they are taken as kind words, but when the same statements are made by people of Southern or Middle Belt extraction; they
are harassed and tormented and their comments branded as treasonable by government,” the union lamented.

The union noted that “this discriminatory posture of government clearly shows that the Buhari-led administration treats
Nigerian citizens differently; some as first class and others considered as second class.”

The union asked, “If this is not the case, how can one explain a situation where the same comments made by Dr Mailafia attracted ceaseless harassment by security personnel, and a similar comments by the Acting Deputy National
Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), did not attract the same reaction.”

It observed that when Bishop Kukah criticised the government in his Christmas homily, all hell broke loose from Northern elements who have consistently exhibited intolerance since the assumption of Buhari as the President.

“Despite the fact that some of those who came hard on the Bishop had made statements against the government in a
more critical manner. Considering the rancorous debate that has trailed the Bishop’s Christmas homily, it is clear to all that while some have arrogated to themselves the right to criticise President Buhari-led government, others are
denied the same right,” SOKAPU explained.

SOKAPU noted that “more worrisome is the fact that the core North has consistently exhibited to the rest of the country that Buhari is a president for a particular region and religion, and not for the entire country,” adding that “sadly so, his glaring nepotism, chauvinism and bigotry in his governance style seems to lend credence to this perception.”

It said, “As a union, we hold this fact as incontestable, that all Nigerians, irrespective of ethnic and religious
divides, have the inalienable right to criticise government with the sole intention of promoting inclusivity for all citizens. Those who have threatened Bishop Kukah ought to be arrested and be made to face the full wrath of the
law.
For the Islamic group that issued out a threat and an ultimatum on the Bishop, we must warn here that nobody has a monopoly of violence and nothing should happen to Bishop Kukah.”

“Those who call on the government to rise up and do their jobs are not criminals; they are patriots who are genuinely interested in the unity and wellbeing of citizens,” the union observed.

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