The Senior Team Manager for the Africa Programme of the Open Society Justice Initiative, OSJI, Prof Chidi Odinkalu, Country Director, Global Rights Nigeria, Abiodun Baiyewu, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, House of Justice, Nigeria, Gloria Ballason, Regional Manager, Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme, Hamsatu Allamin and others under the auspices of a civil society and 2019 general election monitoring group.
The Violent Incidents and Election Atrocity Fusion Centre, VIAFUC, at the weekend, debunked the claims of Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna over the killing of 66 persons in Kajuru Local Government Area on the eve of the aborted presidential and National Assembly elections.
VIAFUC affirmed that the assertion by the governor was aimed to instigate violence and consequently urged him to apologise over the issue.
VIAFUC is an aggregation of some of the country’s leading civil rights activists. The statement was signed by the Senior Team Manager for the Africa Programme of the Open Society Justice Initiative, OSJI, Prof Chidi Odinkalu, Country Director, Global Rights Nigeria, Abiodun Baiyewu, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, House of Justice, Nigeria, Gloria Ballason, Regional Manager, Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme, Hamsatu Allamin.
The statement signed by VIAFUC reads in part: “On 15 February 2019, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, Senior Special Assistant to Kaduna State Governor, Governor Nasir El-Rufai, released a statement on behalf of the Governor warning of the possibility of reprisal attacks, following the alleged killing of 66 persons in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
“Specifically, the statement listed the following areas as affected: Maro Gida and Iri. More specifically he alluded to: Ruga Bahago, Ruga Daku, Ruga Ori, Ruga Haruna, Ruga Yukka Abubakar, Ruga Duni Kadiri, Ruga Shewuka and Ruga Shuaibu Yau. Segregating the numbers, the statement claimed that among the casualties were 12 women and 22 children; and that four wounded persons rescued by security agencies were at the time receiving medical attention.
“Following the release of this statement, Governor Nasir El-Rufai went on national television to back its authenticity, claiming the killing of a specific ethnic group and alluding that the aim of the killers was to destabilize the polity, and predicting the likelihood of reprisal attacks.
“Having received no news of an attack in Kajuru from our monitors, some of whom are deployed in Southern Kaduna, the Violent Incidents & Election Atrocity Fusion Centre (VIAFUC) for #NigeriaDecides2019 established contact with residents and community leaders of Kajuru yesterday evening. Over the past 24 hours, we have trawled all possible sources and sent in two additional fact finders to verify these claims. We report that, sadly, the alleged attack and killings claimed by the Governor did not occur.
“Contrary to the claim of the Senior Special Assistant and the Governor of Kaduna State, the latest violent incident in the Kajuru area reportedly occurred around Sunday, 10 February, 2019, about 23:00 hours, at Adara. About 10 people were reported to have been tragically killed in the attack.
“They were buried the next day on 11 February by the Catholic Church. Many of the wounded were transferred for treatment to St. Gerard’s Hospital along Kachia Road in Kakuri, Kaduna. Indeed, a delegation from the state government visited them on Tuesday 12 February, 2019.
“Since this incident, Kajuru has been relatively calm and there have been no reprisal attacks. Community and faith leaders across the board have pressed the case for peace and pleaded with the people to avoid any acts that could disrupt their participation in the general elections.
“The VIAFUC affirms that the claim by Governor El-Rufai that 66 persons were killed in Kajuru is a piece of deliberate falsehood likely to instigate atrocity violence in these elections capable of setting ablaze a fragile neighbourhood and of compromising the smooth running of election operations and of the safety of all involved in the elections.”
Meanwhile, VIAFUC in the statement demanded retraction of the statement made by the Governor and apology to the people of Kaduna State and Nigerians in general.