By Luka Binniyat
We had reported how the Nigerian Army, under Operation Safe Haven, whose Commander is Major General Dominic Onyemulu, tricked some Atyap community leaders in Zangon Kataf LGA, in Southern part of Kaduna State into a meeting, at one of their operational base on Unguwan Rimi-Bajju road, near Kafanchan in Jemaa LGA also in Southern Kaduna and arrested all of them on the 31st March, 2021.
We reported how after torturous 4 days in the illegal incarceration of the military, they were passed to the Kafanchan Police Area Command under SP Idris Mohammed Gumel.
(SP Mohammed Idris Gumel himself is another story that SOKAPU awaits to say another day)
We mentioned that the detained Atyap community leaders, included village heads and elders, among them, Elder Waje Laah, an infirmed 85 year old great, grand father who can hardly stand on his own for over a minute. After being kept under subhuman conditions for another 6 days, they were transferred to Kaduna State Police Command Headquarters under CP Umar Muri.
Again, without being arraigned before any court of law, the detainees suffered dehumanising conditions in a narrow police cell at the Kabala Doki police Station. The condition of Elder Laah got so bad that the police themselves had to rush him to their own clinic on Constitution road, Kaduna last week.
After they managed to stabilise him, they returned him to the same cell last Sunday where we are told that his condition is taking another turn for the worse.
At first we were told that they were accused of killing 75 Fulani cows in Atyap land and a few sheep, which the detainees, whose average ages are 60, denied the allegation.
SOKAPU had observed that since July last year, no less than 100 Atyap natives have been killed on their ancestral lands and at least 24 villages destroyed and hundreds of hectares of farmlands with growing crops grazed by cattle all from the hands of persons who surviving victims have identified as Fulani armed men, some who had settled among them for long before suddenly moving out.
SOKAPU had further observed that, not a single Fulani leader has been called for questioning not to talk of being detained.
We also said that under Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna state, that has been the style of justice – victims are (allegedly) dragged and punished, while the alleged murderers are walking free with no consequence to their actions.
Upon the release of our statement on the 17th April, 2021, the Kaduna state Police Command, issued a statement signed by ASP Muhammad Jalige, Police Force Public Relations Officer.
Parts of the statement which was released on 18th April, 2021 made claims that could have only come from an epic movie.
Reads part of the statement: “On 24th March, 2021 at about 1000hrs some herdsmen reported at Divisional Police Headquarters Zonkwa, Kaduna that some uncertain number of persons had attacked some of their herds; killing seven hundred and six (706) cows and seventy five (75) sheep and dumped them in a ditch
“On getting the complaint, operatives immediately swung into action, visited the scene of the incident, took necessary photographs and expand their investigation which led to the arrest of fifteen (15) suspects in connection with the barbaric act within the following villages; Mate, Unguwan Tabo, Unguwan Rohogu, Runji, Mashan, Mashan Daji and wawan Rafi all of Atiyap chiefdom in Zangon Kataf LGA Kaduna state.
“The Command is deeply concerned about the nature of carnage perpetrated by agents of doom in their quest to set the State ablaze thus, cannot hold back and watch criminals take laws into their hands.”
Now, if anyone has any doubt in mind that there is a diabolical plot against Atyap land and its community leaders, this should clear it.
SOKAPU would plead that CP Umar Muri answer the following questions:
How can 706 cows and 75 sheep be killed in a day and a ditch large enough to burry them dug by villagers in a single day?
Is it possible that the entire Atyap Chiefdom and surroundings not be taken over by putrefying smell that should have led to an epidemic?
How can an 85 year old man who can hardly stand by himself for long be involved in the killing of such alleged large number of cows, when he can’t even kill a cockroach?
Is this not a shameful and embarrasing trumped up allegation just to punish and humiliate leaders of Atyap communities who are still mourning the murder of their kinsmen by those they identify as Fulani militia?
How comes after nearly 10 months of continuous killings and arson of Atyap natives and their villages, CP Umar Muri, is not “deeply concerned about the level of carnage perpetrated by (the real) agents of doom. . . ?”
Since last Saturday, Atyoli Ayuba Dodo, 60; Atyoli (Respectable elder), David Bwanin, 55, and Atyoli Bobai Joseph, 75 have seriously taken ill.
Despite the Atyap demand that they be treated by their own doctors, these sick elders were taken to the Police clinic.
SOKAPU is highly not comfortable with what they are prescribed … since we would not have, if given the choice, allow the police to treat them.
Last night, the detainees have been moved in pairs of two to different police stations including the sick, old and infirmed.
They are scattered to the following police stations in Kaduna metropolis: the notorious Gabasawa Police Station; Operation Yaki Police Station inside the police barracks on Constitution Road. The cells there hold some of the most harden suspects of violent crimes in the state. The others are Magajin Gari Police Station, Unguwan Rimi Police Station , Kakuri police Station and two are still left at the Kabala Doki Police Station.
SOKAPU believes that with the unintelligent and laughable allegations made against these innocent Atyap community leaders by the police, the police may frame up more charges that would ensure that they are denied bail.
They would also do so to safe face from the embarrassment they have caused themselves since it is obvious that they are desperately playing out an agenda.
We also believe that the motive of separating them is to subjugate them into brutal torture so to extract confession under duress.
Their separation is also to remove the psychological comfort that comes with staying under one roof as persons of same identity and common problem.
We are asking for the immediate release of these men that were literally abducted by men of Major General Dominic Onyemulu and punished before being passed to the police for further suffering.
We demand that the Nigeria Army Headquarters inquire into how its men have now become tools used for such untoward projects.
Ohaneze Ndi’Igbo should call their son to order, and remind him that there will still be life after leaving the Army.
If anything happens to these men, Major General Dominic Onyemulu and CP Umar Muri should be held responsible.
We are calling on volunteer legal experts, relevant NGOs, CSOs and men and women of means and conscience to assist us in enforcing the Fundamental Human Rights of these poor detainees who can obviously not afford the cost of pursuing their rights without assistance.
Finally, we call on Atyap youths and their neighbours to please remain calm and not take the law into their hands, even as they maintain vigillance over their communities.
▪︎ Binniyat is the spokesman for the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU)