from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – THE identity of the killers of no less than 178 people in northern Nigeria this year remains a mystery.
The killings have occurred during the vicious cycle of communal violence and unpunished crimes in the Kaduna State.
At least 43 of the victims were murdered between July 21 and 24.
Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai has blamed the bloodbath on armed bandits terrorising Nigeria’s northwestern states.
Media attribute the blame militia targeting southern Kaduna communities on ethnic grounds. Southern Kaduna is predominantly Christian and home to some 30 ethnic groups. Northern Kaduna’s population is largely Muslim and Hausa-Fulani
Relations between the Hausa-Fulani and communities in southern Kaduna are tense, stemming predominantly from competition over land and political control.
A third version of the bloodshed, provided by the federal government, suggests the murder spree is a result of politically-motivated violence and revenge killings by criminal gangs acting on ethnic and religious grounds.
A report by a human rights organisation disclosed ethnic and inter-communal violence, which killed thousands in the entire Kaduna between 1987 and 2013.
Anietie Ewang, the human rights advocate, said in some cases, police were absent or took few or no steps to contain violence.
“Perpetrators were rarely brought to justice,” she said.
“The resulting cycles of impunity produced more attacks and reprisal attacks.”
The state government has imposed a 24-hour curfew in parts of southern Kaduna.
Police have pledged to work with the military and other security agencies to ensure citizens’ safety.
– CAJ News