The people of Godogodo chiefdom in Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State will not forget in a hurry the misfortune that befell them last week, when unidentified gunmen laid siege on the community, killing 29 and injuring 15. Suspected to be herdsmen, they launched an attack on the chiefdom on Saturday evening, also rendering thousands homeless and destroying valuable properties.
Southern Kaduna communities had in recent time suffered series of attacks, the latest being the one on Godogodo. Since the incident, residents have continued to live in perpetual fear. Our reporter, who visited Godogodo yesterday, gathered that 29 people, including four children and 12 were killed in the attack. It was also observed that majority of the women and children who survived the attack have fled the community, with only few people remaining within the community.
The attack led to mass exodus, for fear of the unknown as the surrounding villages have been completely deserted. Those who lost their lives to the Saturday attack include: Audu Livinus, Abba Tanimu, Shedrach Dauda, Theresa Bitrus, Hassan Peter, Tani Danjuma, Into Audu, Nneka Gambo, Ajuji Patrick, Aminu Yusuf, Dan’azumi Kibam, Bitrus Sunday, Matan Chindo, Matan Yabuku, Lami Maigari, Agwaza Achi, Joseph D. Nok, Musa Lenge, Ishaku Ali, Luka Ali, Daniel Silas, Samuel Damina, Ajah Hamza, Monday Hamza, Aisha Musa, Ike Johnson, Monica Bulus, Stanley Samuel and Jonah Yakubu.
Due to the attack, business activities in the area are at standstill, as residents cannot go to work, and children cannot go to school, leaving deserted schools and hospitals.
Narrating their ordeal, residents said they are yet to recover from the shock caused by the attack. Bridget Matthew, a mother of two, narrated: “Around 5.30pm on Saturday, we were going about our daily routines when the gunmen, seemingly out of nowhere launched the attack. They set my house ablaze, and I managed to escape with my baby. I own only the clothes I’m wearing, and I now take shelter at the post office.”
Another resident, Audu Gambo, whose pregnant wife’s womb was ripped out in a most gory manner before she was set ablaze, wept. His 50-year-old mother too was burnt to death. “I’m now a widower,” he sobbed, narrating that another woman named Ajuji Patrick was also hacked to death by the attackers.
Gloria Musa, on her own part, narrated how her 90-year-old mother, Hannatu, was killed during the attack. “When I went to the farm that day, I saw some Fulani herdsmen with arms, so I ran back home not knowing they were coming after my community. While I was cooking at home in the evening when a bullet whizzed past. I raised alarm and ran away. Those who could, ran while those who couldn’t hid indoors. My mother also hid inside the house, but when we came back the next morning, we found out that the house had been torched with her inside. That was how she died, a painful death. I am sad and I want justice,” she said.
Similarly, Vivian Musa, mother of six, in her narrative said her husband Musa was killed and beheaded in her presence. “I can never forget. I don’t even know where to go from here because I have also been rendered homeless,” she wept.
Youth Chairman of Godogodo, Shagari Akawo, said 1,500 people were displaced. “We are still surprised at how the attack succeeded because we have soldiers and police on ground the very day this incident took place, yet they could not stop the attack. We want government to deploy security personnel into the forest to chase out the killer herdsmen. This whole thing started in May this year from Ninte, one of the surrounding villages, before it escalated into Godogodo. We are worried, we cannot sleep with our eyes closed, we cannot also do our businesses. Our farm produce for the year has been eaten up by the Fulani herders’ cattle and we’re left without food. Our children cannot go to school, our wives are scattered around, we are begging government to deploy security personnel to the area to bring an end to these killings.”
Akawo also said: “We are people-loving people and we cannot explain the reason for such attacks. More security personnel need to go into the surrounding villages because silent killings have been going on, especially in Ninte. Also, gunmen ambushed security personnel at Pasakori, close to Godogodo, killing a cop. We want security personnel to comb the forest called ‘Reserve’ in Godogodo.”
Akawo denied reports that angry youths barricaded Kafanchan/Kagoro road along Garaje area and burnt cars belonging to innocent passers-by. “There was nothing like that,” he said. While he confirmed that the state government has assisted the displaced persons with relief materials, he appealed to government to assist more in the area of food and security.
The Interim Council Chairman of Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Dr. Bege Katuka had earlier urged residents of the area to remain calm and not take the law into their own hands, also appealing to locals to co-operate with the police.
The Executive Secretary of Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency, Ezekiel Baba Karik, said that the number of casualties was not up to 40 as widely reported, and made it known that both SEMA and NEMA have assisted the victims with relief materials.
However, there have been reactions from different quarters. A member of the House of Representatives, Barrister Sunday Marshall Katung, called on the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, to declare total war on the killer herdsmen who have in the last couple of months continued to launch attacks on the people of Southern Kaduna.
Katung, who represents Zangon Kataf/Jaba Federal constituency in the House of Representatives, in a statement warned that the people of Southern Kaduna might be left with no option than to resort to self-help, should the government fail to act. He also urged the federal government to establish a military formation in Jema’a local government so as to bring to an end the invasion. He also asked President Buhari to invoke the constitutional provision which states that ‘the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government’. He also demanded that all those found culpable be arraigned before the courts in the spirit of justice and equity.
Katung also said: “Our communities have concurrently been attacked aggressively claiming innocents, mostly women and children, crops worth millions of naira have been destroyed by herdsmen and a number of houses have been burnt down. We demand that all those found culpable be arraigned before the courts in the spirit of justice and equity.”
The Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU) in a statement signed by its president, Barrister Solomon Musa alleged that the Southern Kaduna people have been totally neglected by the authorities at the Federal and State levels and left to be maimed, raped, brutalized, killed, slaughtered and destroyed by their enemies. According to the statement, over 40 people were killed. The statement also said that about seven villages in Godogodo chiefdom are now completely deserted after being ransacked, burnt and the people killed; adding that thousands of people have been displaced.
The Deputy Governor of Kaduna state, Bala Barnabas Bantex however assured that the security personnel will not only go after the herdsmen who were said to have ravaged the communities but to also ensure that security of lives and properties is guaranteed in Jema’a LG and in the entire Southern Kaduna. The spokesperson of Kaduna State Police Command, Aliyu Usman also assured that security personnel are fully on ground in the affected communities.