PREMIUM TIMES has obtained more details of the attack the Kaduna State government said killed 66 people.
The attack occurred on Monday and was a reprisal after an earlier incident that left many dead, a resident said.
The details came amid controversy over the accuracy of the details provided by the Kaduna government.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai on Friday announced the recovery of 66 bodies on the eve of the now-postponed general elections, leading many to believe the killings took place that day.
Mr el-Rufai said the victims were killed by “criminal elements” in various dispersed hamlets in the Maro Gida and Iri axis of Kajuru LGA.
The settlements affected include Ruga Bahago, Ruga Daku, Ruga Ori, Ruga Haruna, Ruga Yukka Abubakar, Ruga Duni Kadiri, Ruga Shewuka and Ruga Shuaibu Yau, he said.
The government did not state which security outfit provided information on the killings and gave no further details on the nature of the attack.
The former head of the National Human Rights Commission, Chidi Odinkalu, said during a Channels TV programme that he could not confirm the killings took place. He said he contacted several sources in the area.
Mr Odinkalu said the report of the killings may have been part of the design by senior politicians in the country to create scenarios that could be used as a reason for the postponement of the elections.
The Peoples Democratic Party in Kaduna also questioned the death toll given by the governor, saying only 11 people died.
PREMIUM TIMES worked for hours to verify the report and established that Mr El-Rufai’s announcement was based on a confidential situation report (Sitrep) by Operation Yaki, a security team comprising of the Police, Army and the State Security Services.
According to the details of the report, Operation Yaki said that a patrol team of 15 soldiers that accompanied Fulani residents of the area, who were searching for their missing siblings, found the 66 bodies, amongst them women and children. They also saw several properties destroyed.
Details of attack
A PREMIUM TIMES reporter in the state also spoke to residents who gave details of the attack.
Benjamin Maigari, a local who said he travelled to the area ahead of the elections, said there were two attacks: the first on the Adara people of Maro and a second, a reprisal on the Fulani in the community.
He said the reprisal claimed more lives than the initial attack.
“Towards the early hours of Monday, around 1 a.m., there was an attack on a community called Ungwar Bardi in Maro, Kajuru Local Government. The people there are predominantly Adara. So, there was an attack on them and 11 people were killed,” he said.
“The locals, that’s the Adara people suspected that it was the Fulani that attacked and decided to have a reprisal attack that Monday. The reprisal was that same Monday. They attacked the hamlets of the Fulani within the community and killed the Fulanis. Women, children, inclusive. Even the one (attack) on Adara people, women and children were killed.”
Police keep mum
He said police visited the area to access the situation on Monday and met with the district head and the divisional police in Kajuru Local Government.
The police are yet to react or officially give an update on the development.
When contacted, police Public Relations Officer in Kaduna, Yakubu Sabo, said the force would soon release an update on the incident.
It is not clear why the state government delayed the announcement until Friday. However, the Operation Yaki report of the incident, based on which the government spoke, is dated 9 p.m Thursday, February 14.
PREMIUM TIMES could not get clarification from the governor’s spokesperson, Samuel Aruwan, as calls put through to his line were not answered. He did not also respond to text messages.
History of violence
In October 2018, the paramount ruler of Adara, Agom Maiwada Galadima, was killed by unknown persons days after he was abducted.
In response, the Kaduna State Government imposed a 24-hour curfew on some Kaduna metropolis such as Kasuwan Magani, Kajuru, Kateri and Kachia.
The government denied the killing had ethnic or religious undertone in the attack.
“This is a struggle between good, decent, law abiding people trying to uphold the peace and criminals who want to divide and destroy. It is not a struggle between religious or ethnic groups. Let no criminal find succour in faith or tribe,” Mr el-Rufai said at the time in a statement.
Before the monarch was whisked away, four persons, including a policeman, were killed along Kaduna/Kachia road by the alleged abductors on Friday, October 19.
His driver and the wife were freed by the kidnappers, leaving only the chief in their custody. Days later, he was killed.