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THE Commander of Operation Safe Haven, Major General Chukwuemeka Okonkwo has blamed the killings in Southern Kaduna on “criminal elements on both sides”, ruling out ethnic cleansing as claimed.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai said his administration has done everything within its powers to bring peace to the area.
Both General Okonkwo and Governor El-Rufai spoke at a security meeting in the council chambers of Government House Kaduna yesterday.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, General Okonkwo said, “What we have are attacks on some communities and reprisal attacks.”
Both sides of the conflict have been attacking each other, he said, adding, “The reports are not balanced. Perhaps, most of the media houses don’t know that both sides are actually involved.’’
‘’You have Kataf youths, Fulani militias and the criminal elements of both sides.”
The commander promised that the military and other security agents will re-strategise and…be more robust in the days to come.”
Governor El-Rufai said, “We answered the decades-old demand for a permanent military base by working with the Federal Government to deploy a forward operating base of the Nigerian Army in Kafanchan. Our government purchased an estate to provide accommodation for a permanent mobile police squadron in the area. Also deployed in area are troops from Operation Safe Haven and Nigerian Army Special Forces, complemented by two mobile police squadrons.”
The governor said that in spite of these measures, “the best guarantee of peace is the willingness of communities to live in peace and harmony, and resolve to settle differences through…lawful means.”
But President of the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Samson Ayokunle described the killings in the area as unacceptable, urging the federal and state governments to stop the violence.
The clergyman called for genuine intervention in the crisis, adding that: “Despite assurances from both the Federal and Kaduna State governments,…the demons of murder are yet to sheathe their swords against Southern Kaduna communities and that the government appears not to be sincere in walking the talk”.
A statement by his Special Assistant (Media and Communications), Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, the CAN boss said: “There is urgent need by government and the security forces to walk their talk and combat the raging insecurity squarely across Kaduna state and other parts of the country.
We appreciative government’s efforts but…your present best is unacceptable. It is not the best Nigerians expect.”