Why gang fights easily turn religious in troubled Kaduna communities – Residents

Kaduna State map used to illustrate the story.
Kaduna State map used to illustrate the story.

“We have lived under the threat of the unfortunate event at Unguwar Yero and Kwaru for a very long time. We are being terrorised by boys who attack even in broad daylight with dangerous weapons. They collect your possession and run into the community,” Lawal Hussaini said.

Several residents of Kwaru and Unguwar Yero made similar remarks to PREMIUM TIMES’ reporter who visited the two communities on Sunday.

The two communities share the same entrance and exit route, driving from the popular Karaye Road linking Badarawa and College roads in Unguwan Dosa in the heart of Kaduna.

The residents patronise the same Majalisa Market, their communities have no visible boundary.

Unguwar Yero

Unguwar Yero residents are predominantly Christians while Kwaru is a Muslim community.

Istifanus Bala, a resident, told PREMIUM TIMES that the people are always victims of any clash there.

“We are always victims of any crisis here, we are basically surrounded by Muslim communities. So anytime there is a crisis in the state, we find ourselves boxed to the corner.

“What happened was a recurring event. We are just lucky to have a governor who does not take chances. He came in immediately and imposed curfew here. It is a good thing. But there is no day we do not face situations like this. It is basically a gang thing.

“Youth will get drunk and start fighting, using dangerous weapons on each other. And you know how Kaduna is; if it is not immediately stopped, it automatically turns to a religious fight. That was what happened there. Before you know two people died and some of the fighters sustained injuries.”

Monica Bulus, also a resident, appealed to government to provide jobs for the many idle youth in the area who she said have made the area unsafe.

“These young boys are friends of each other, they belong to the same gangs. They terrorise people and attack them at will. Anytime there is an occasion like this, Sallah, Christmas, or something like that, they come together and have fun. But some of them who will be under the influence of drugs will start a fight.

“If a Muslim boy is killed or attacked, the Muslim brothers will come in gangs for revenge, so also for the Christians. This is a serious problem for us here. But just take a look now; everybody is going about with their normal business. They are walking together as usual.”

Kwaru

Kwaru, a predominantly Muslim community, is Unguwar Yero’s closest neighbours.

Lawal Hussain, a youth leader in Kwaru, applauded the quick intervention of the security agencies and the visit by Governor Nasir el-Rufai.

“We are at a cross-roads in this area, I mean Kwaru and Unguwar Yero. These gangs are terrorising us. Whenever they had their fight, it eventually escalated to a communal or religious crisis. Meanwhile, afterwards they are always together.

“When you look at what happened on Friday, it was merely a gang fight that turned communal crisis. Kwaru and Unguwar Yero is one community.”

Another resident, Adamu Biu, would only appeal to religious leaders and parents to give their wards good home training and for the clerics to always preach peace and harmony.

“I will also call on the government to relax the curfew; peace has returned to the area.

“There has been marathon meetings among religious leaders and community leaders, and even parents, so that we can get to stop this from re-occurring. And it is from both sides.”

Governor El-Rufai has visited the families of the two youth killed in the clash on Friday. While condoling with them, Mr El-Rufai expressed his sympathy and condemned the loss of lives.

The governor said law enforcement agencies had been directed to investigate the killings and prosecute those involved. He appealed to the residents of the two communities to reject division in the name of religion or ethnicity, and to uphold harmony in the area.

Mr El-Rufai was accompanied on the visit by Deputy Governor Barnabas Bala and senior government officials.

The government had announced a dusk to dawn curfew in the two communities, between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. A government statement said more security agents had been deployed to the area, and appealed to residents to observe the curfew, which would be strictly enforced.


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