West & Central Africa

Bishop accuses Kaduna governor of complacency in the wake of Easter killings

A leading Roman Catholic Bishop, Joseph Danlami Bagobirii, diocese of Kafanchan, Kaduna State, has blamed the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasiru El Rufai, for the continuous killing of Christians in Southern Kaduna State by Islamist Fulani herdsmen and accused the governor of complacency in the Jihad against Christians in the region.

This accusation comes a day after the killing of 14 people in Asso, over the Easter period, by the Islamic herdsmen.

“Having presided over the mass burial of at least 10 Catholics along with their parish priest, Fr Alexander Yayock, the following day, I’m by conscience compelled to make the following statements… If anything, (Kaduna State) government has shown outright partisanship in favour of the herdsmen to the disappointment of the majority Southern Kaduna indigenes. Because of government’s inability to serve as an un-biased umpire in the face of these crises, we are sometimes tempted to believe that there is a well-planned Jihad against the people of Southern Kaduna and Christians generally in Northern Nigeria as this is amply demonstrated by the incessant attacks and atrocities against the aborigines of the Middle Belt region in Northern Nigeria,” the Bishop said.

Bishop Bagobirii added that Governor El Rufai has been carrying out an agenda of Islamisation and supporting the scorch-earth warfare in the state. “The sole aim of these attacks is to conquer our people and occupy their lush lands and turn same into grazing fields for the marauding nomads. The governor of Kaduna State is pursuing this detestable policy by his plan to forcefully take over lands in Southern Kaduna and turn same to grazing reserves and routes for his kinsmen.”

The Bishop, who is also the Chairman of Southern Kaduna Elders’ Association, accused El Rufai of using government machinery to harass any voice that is raised against his tactics in handling the killings in southern Kaduna.

The Bishop said, “The governor… unabashedly takes sides with the armed herdsmen (His kinsmen) thereby failing in
his responsibility as a true statesman, becoming therefore a biased umpire who blames and criminalizes Southern Kaduna victims as the cause of the mayhem. He added. “The governor has made several efforts in the media to discredit figure of casualties that were arrived at through painstaking research, and is known for trying to change the true narrative by presenting the victims as the villain and the aggressors as the prey.”

The governor, according to the Bishop, has the pen chance of “using state apparatus to insult, denigrate, intimidate, arrest and put in prison all voices of reason from Southern Kaduna who dare to challenge his handling of this crisis.” Citing examples of government harassment, the Bishop said, “Among those that have fallen victims of his tyranny are traditional rulers, journalists, youths, political leaders, academicians, while threatening our lawyers and other leaders (religious and unions) with arrest for daring to speak out against the genocide.”

He argued that the primary responsibility of government was the protection of life and property of citizens irrespective of religion or ethnicity.

“Any breach of this fundamental principle of social contract contravenes the very reason for which government exists for,” he added. The Bishop accused both the state and federal government of failing, “woefully in this regard because of their inability to rise above ethnic and religious bias.
The Kaduna state governor has not made any statement in response to the Bishop’s accusations, but a state government official, in his reaction, accused the Bishop of being unfair to the governor saying he is not speaking as a spokesman of the governor but said Governor El Rufai had “presented a detailed programme on how to solve the crisis in the state.” He accused the Bishop of advancing a personal agenda through provocative statements and advised the Bishop to join hands with the governor to ensure that a watertight arrangement to ‘bring the perpetrators of the crime to book.