A community-led peace initiative was inaugurated in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area (LGA), the main theatre of the historic Southern Kaduna crisis, on Friday, with the Kataf and Hausa-Fulani communities pledging to end violent attacks.
The initiative, an effort of the Atyap Chiefdom in the Zangon Kataf LGA, is an 80-member committee named, “Community Peace and Security Partnership, CPSP”.
The committee was inaugurated at the palace of the Agwatyap, the paramount ruler of the Atyap Chiefdom, Dominic Yahaya.
A wave of attacks and counter-attacks had swept through the local government between June and August, this year, leaving scores of people, including children and women of Atyap (also Kataf) and Hausa-Fulani extractions, dead and precipitating a human emergency.
But on August 22, the warring communities held a peace summit under the auspices of the Atyap chief, Mr Yahaya, and signed a pact to end the killings.
Mr Yahaya, on Friday, said the new committee, the CPSP, was formed in fulfilment of a key resolution of the August 22 summit, following which he said, “we now enjoy relative peace”.
“In further charting a more lasting solution to the peace process, it has been considered appropriate to implement one of the key resolutions reached at the Summit and to carry along the grassroots, which is the establishment of the Atyap Chiefdom Community Peace and Security and Partnership committee,” the chief, Mr Yahaya said.
The committee includes members from the Kataf, Hausa and Fulani communities, Christian and Muslim local leaderships, Igbo community, Miyetti Allah, the pastoral Fulani group, youth and women folds, and the civil society.
Highlighting the responsibilities of the committee, the chief said they would “proffer solutions that will enhance peaceful co-existence” and “be proactive in determining matters of conflict triggers before they snowball into violence.”
He said the committee would also “advise on youth programmes and activities that would promote inter-communal relationships in the Chiefdom,” and “create district/village area sub committees for the actualisation of peace at the grassroots level and these committees would feed the main committee on security threats and other matters at the village level.”
Reacting after the inauguration, the chairman of the committee, John Gora, the Dan Madami Atyap, said, “we have accepted to work as a team against the violence that has bedeviled our community. By the grace of God, we shall have peace.”
In what came quite different from the atmosphere of tension that is typical of a conflict situation, the packed gathering had people express desires to end violence, forget past wrongs, and live together peacefully.
“If the passion with which he has spoken is anything to go by, I believe the committee will be successful,” said the executive vice-chairperson of the Kaduna Peace Commission, Priscilla Akut, referring to the remark of the committee’s chairman, Mr Gora.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs in the state, Samuel Aruwan, said, “the initiative is grounded in the community, not driven from outside but we will do everything within our reach to support you. Atyap Chiefdom is setting the pace in peace-building and the world is watching.”
Southern Kaduna, geographically part of Nigeria’s Middle Belt, is long known for deadly ethno-religious conflicts.
These are usually rooted in struggles for land resources and self-determination and settler-indigene divide, which have been left unresolved by successive governments and led to an atmosphere of mutual distrust, hatred and intolerance.
But apart from heavy security presence in the area now, there are also community-led peace initiatives going on. This has been seen in Jema’a LGA between the Fulani and the Fantswam and also in Doka, Kachia LGA between the Fulani and the Adara.
“Beyond boots on the ground, that is, security presence, it is important for the communities to work for peace,” Mr Aruwan said on Friday.