Citing security concerns, injustice, and insensitivity to the plight of its people, the Adara Development Association (ADA) has stated its opposition to the construction of a N3 billion market in Kasuwan Magani, the community that erupted in ethno-religious violence that allegedly claimed hundreds of lives in February 2018.
But a top official of the State Government who did not want his name mentioned told Nigeria Everyday that there was no way the government would stop work on the market because an ethnic group was not comfortable with its location.
Adara is the largest indigenous population group in Kaduna State, which traditional ruler, was abducted and killed, even after a ransom was paid. His people have cried foul and pointed accusing fingers in certain directions.
The association has also been lamenting the erasure of the Adara Chiefdom and the placement of the people under the Kachia Chiefdom and a newly created Kajuru Emirate, where they, as Christians, are in the majority. They frown at being subjected to a Muslim system of traditional governance.
In a letter of objection to the construction of the market to Governor Mallam Nasir el Rufai, the ADA’s National President, Awemi Dio Maisamari and Assistant National Secretary, Barrister Luke G. Waziri, said the Adara community does not and will not support the reopening of the Kasuwan Magani market and its reconstruction.
“It will do so only when it is satisfied that government has retraced its discriminatory inclinations, taken appropriate measures to engage the community so as to address the interests, concerns, suspicions and fears of Adara nation.”
But a government source, who pleaded anonymity, because he did not want to dignify their complaint with an official response said: “They have the structures of Kachia and Kajuru Local Governments to relate to if they have any issue, but government is not going to stop the construction of a market because an ethnic group thinks that where they dominate other people don’t have the right to be there.”
The full text of the letter to el Rufai reads: “During various community meetings at Kachia, Maraban Kajuru and Kaduna, Adara community has severally discussed issues of very grave concern to its people which so far are yet to be fairly addressed by government. We are therefore constrained to formally notify you of the resolutions at some of these community meetings as follows:
“The immediate and urgent concerns of Adara community are the wide spread criminality and dastardly attacks in Adara land, the suffering of IDPs and other crisis victims, the assassination of HRH Agom Adara, the scrapping of Adara Chiefdom, the partitioning of Adara community in to two, the subordination of our people in Kachia LGA under a proposed Kachia Chiefdom, the subordination of the predominantly Christian population in Kajuru LGA under a tiny minority Muslim population in Kajuru Emirate and the refusal of government to engage with or at least be sensitive to the concerns and feelings of the community in any way during this dark period.
“The community is still in deep shock, sorrow and is highly agitated about the above issues and even more about the bleak and uncertain future which awaits future generations of Adara people given the above trend. While all the concerns and true representatives of Adara community are being deliberately and contemptuously ignored, the wishes and interests of Hausa/Fulani Muslim residents of our community are being aggressively promoted. The clearest examples of such discriminatory actions are the ongoing emergency N3billion project for the reconstruction of Kasuwan Magani market followed by the forceful reopening of the market on the site and first anniversary of the massacre of more than 200 hundred people.
“Generally, some of the actions and inactions of government, its personnel, agents and some Hausa/Fulani Muslim residents of our community have continued to be matters of serious concern. From September to date, there have been persisting security breaches and criminality all over our community. These include the killings at Kallah, Pogo, Akilibu, Baura Kurutu, Ungwan Maigoro villages and the ambush on security operatives at Jan Dutse resulting in the death of two police men. Several cases of kidnapping also occurred at Buda, Kajuru and Doka among others. Cases of deliberate destruction of farm lands by herdsmen are so rampant that it is now difficult to keep track. Government has been unable to address these challenges. And yet the Kajuru Local Government Council deployed 250 security personnel to forcefully reopen the Kasuwan Magani market and is even threatening to compel other communities to close their local markets to patronize the ill fated market.
“Adara community regards the above developments as highly insensitive and provocative thereby sustaining an already volatile atmosphere. This Association had cause to oppose the reopening of the Kasuwan Magani market after the violence of February, 2018 because of similar and unaddressed fears. Adara community leaders, who had just been released on bail after several days detention were again threatened with arrest and detention to withdraw their opposition which enabled the market to be reopened. Therefore, it was such insensitivity that paved the way for the October 2018 massacre. Events like that consistently show how Adara people and community have been rendered irrelevant in their only homeland and their interests, needs, wishes, views and concerns systematically ignored or suppressed.
“Because of the above reasons, Adara community in general does not and will not support the reopening of the Kasuwan Magani market and the reconstruction project. It will do so only when it is satisfied that government has retraced its discriminatory inclinations, taken appropriate measures to engage the community so as to address the interests, concerns, suspicions and fears of Adara nation. Therefore, the community hereby makes a strong appeal that the market should remain closed and all work at the Kasuwan Magani market project site be suspended henceforth.
“In conclusion, we believe that this is the least confidence building measure necessary to show that government is interested in meaningful engagement with the community to ensure lasting peace.
Even on humanitarian grounds, Adara community deserves such token government generosity of spirit and empathy in the aftermath of the atrocities that it is still trying to cope with.
“We therefore look forward to your most considerate and positive response and/or action, please.”
In reaction, the government source explained that the major grouse of the Adara people stemmed from the fact that the market was closer in proximity to where the Hausa community is.
Blood, he said, has been shed over the market issue adding that a responsible government will not make it appear that killing and maiming can be used to achieve a purpose.
“The government is responding by building the market, trying to remove market as a source of tension and conflict. We have gone there, we have done ground-laying ceremony, you are writing to say you don’t want, the market construction should stop. This is the 21st century, you cannot make your own ethnic thing the determinant of public policy.
“They have the structures of Kachia and Kajuru Local Governments to relate to if they have any issue, but government is not going to stop the construction of a market because an ethnic group thinks that where they dominate other people don’t have the right to be there.
According to him, the Local Government Chairman of Kajuru has been having meetings to shore up the process of peace and prevent the violence that has often erupted there in the recent past.
“They don’t consider the guy (Chairman) a person to reckon with. You can’t be in Kajuru or Kachia Local Governments and say you want the Governor himself to engage you.
“We cannot be responding to people who have taken it upon themselves to see life and every issue from ethnic (perspective).”
He recalled that Kasuwan Magani was the location where Kaduna State lost its innocence over three decades ago following ethno-religious violence that led to the loss of lives under former Governor Balarabe Musa.
“In a lot Southern Kaduna markets, those who started the markets turned out to be the Hausa settlers who are traders. Over the decades, economic empowerment has ensured that more of the “indigenous persons” have also acquired some capital. In some places, access to the market has been difficult
He, however, admitted that the Adara are practically the majority in Kachia and Kajuru Local Government Areas.