Twenty-nine ethnic groups in the communal violence-prone southern district of Kaduna state have signed a peace accord, a week after the latest flare left scores of persons dead in the area.
The accord, tagged “Kafanchan Peace Declaration”, was signed on Tuesday by leaders of the groups from the five local government areas in the district. It was brokered by Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, a civil society organization based in Nairobi, Kenya.
No fewer than 20 persons were feared killed and properties worth millions of naira destroyed in the latest crisis that started from a clash between herdsmen and farmers in Godogodo, a chiefdom of Jema’a local government area of southern Kaduna.
The violence instantly spread to other towns and villages in the area, with the worst affected being Ninte, Gada Biyu, Gidan Waya, Antang, Dogon and Kagoro.
The day after the killings on October 15, protesting youth set up roadblocks and burnt vehicles on the Kafanchan-Kagoro road.
To curtail the mayhem, the state governor, Nasir el-Rufai, on October 16 imposed a 24-hour curfew on Kafanchan, the headquarters of Jema’a and epicenter of the violence.
After order was restored, the leaders from Kachia, Kaura, Jema’a, Sanga and Zangon Kataf local government areas began a meeting in Kafanchan that led to Tuesday’s peace accord.
The communique announcing the accord was signed by Dakachi Anthony (for Jema’a); Norman Shekarau (Kachia); Ignatius Raymond (Kaura); Danlami Adamu, (Sanga); and Simon Saddih (Zangon Kataf).
In the communiqué made available to journalists, the leaders stated that “the community-driven inter-communal dialogue”, involving the twenty nine ethnic groups, “has succeeded in helping us begin to jointly find solutions to our issues and concerns”.
They said the dialogue cut across all levels of civil society, and sought “the buy-in and support of key stakeholders (Federal, state and local government, the business community, traditional rulers, community and religious leaders, women and young people)”.
They added: “The bottom-up approach provided a different model for addressing the issues and was received positively by our communities.
“We cultivated a new culture among ourselves of embracing dialogue as the mechanism for dealing with our disputes, hoping to ultimately lead to peaceful co-existence between us.”
The “Kafanchan Peace Declaration” stated that every attempt would be made to end the attacks and ensure that there were no reprisals. “We are conscious that the failure to implement an agreement is worse than not reaching an agreement at all”, it stressed.
As part of fence-mending, the leaders agreed on joint condolence visits to families affected by the last crisis and resettlement of displaced Fulani and natives. They vowed to hold perpetrators of violence “accountable so as to end impunity”.
To ensure permanent end to the conflict, the communiqué urged the state and local governments to “define specific conflict prevention and goals, and to factor the promotion of conflict prevention objectives into polices and legislation”.
The urged their various communities to intensify the dissemination of information on the peace accord to “the broader community”.