The Kaduna State Police Command, on Monday, said dozens of men being loaded into two military pick-up vans in a video that went viral on social media over the weekend were not bandits but victims of ‘mistaken identity’.
TheCable newspaper is reporting that the spokesperson of the police, Yekini Ayoku, made the clarification during a peace meeting attended by the state’s commissioner for internal security and home affairs, Samuel Aruwan, chairman of Chikun Local Government, D.O Igwilo, and soldiers of the 312 Artillery regiment, on Monday.
He said some bandits had attacked a Fulani settlement in Kakura, Kujama district of Chikum Local Government of the state, killed the brother of the head of the community. The gunmen then went to another community and rustled their cattle.
Members of a local vigilante from the community where the brother of the village head was killed pursued the gunmen. Similarly, the Fulani herder went in search of their rustled cattle.
“While in the forest, the two sides clashed. In the process, three of the Fulani were killed and a number of others were injured.
“The information got to the military detachment in the area, and they went for rescue and they took the dead and the injured to the hospital.
“Presently, the injured are now being treated at 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital.
“So, these people taken to the hospital are not bandits, but rather, from the narrations of both sides, it was discovered that it was a case of mistaken identity.
“So, what we have done here is to bring the two communities together, then the local government chairman, house assembly member, the district head and head of the Fulani community have been asked to go back and ensure peace among the communities,” he said.
Meanwhile, a Fulani group on Monday sent a written complaint to authorities in Kaduna State seeking redress over how soldiers dehumanised the herders whom they alleged were framed by members of the vigilante group.
The herders, under the auspices of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria, also appealed to a popular Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi, who was copied in the letter to help them deliver their complaint to the authorities.
On Monday while reading the letter of the group, Mr. Gumi at the Sultan Bello Mosque, said the men who were arrested were in fact victims of robbery. He explained that their cattle were rustled in Kakura, Kujama district of Chikum Local Government of the state.
“Those arrested are a group of cattle herders whose cattle are rustled, they assembly themselves and notified their village head about the incident, and the village head ordered them to trace their rustled cows, on the process, vigilante groups attacked them, killing one Musa Haruna,75 in the process.
“The vigilante groups also went ahead to attacked all Fulanis settlements in the axis arresting indiscriminately herder, among those arrested were those seen been jam-packed in a military vehicle and six people died in the process,” Mr Gumi alleged as he read the letter of the group during Ramadan Tafsir monitored by PREMIUM TIMES.
The group also claimed that members of the vigilante group invaded the hamlet of one Alhaji Tukur, who had lived in the area for 20 years.
“The video is disturbing, the military has acted unprofessionally in that regard,” Mr. Gumi said.
He said suspects can only be arrested, handcuffed, and subsequently prosecuted no matter what offence they might have committed the said the manner the men were treated was against the principles of justice.
“This kind of Draconian law can only heighten and escalate the problems than proffering solutions to them.
“We urged the Nigerian authorities to engage the local vigilante and train them on modern policing that will avoid the situation being deteriorated by them taking the law into their hands,” Mr. Gumi said.
Mr. Gumi said he cannot afford to keep mum while certain groups are being framed and killed.
“Those people are not cattle rustlers, rather their cattle were rustled and in the process, they were unjustly frame-up, the cleric said.
He promised to deliver their complaints to relevant authorities.
Kaduna State is under the grip of a bloody insurgency. Thousands of people have been killed, abducted, and displaced by gunmen locally known as bandits.