Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, says his government will not allow “bigoted busy bodies” to trivalise the killings in the state.
Speaking through Samuel Aruwan, his media aide, el-Rufai said only irresponsible and insensitive people can “recklessly” dismiss the deaths of members of a community with whom they have no contact.
The governor said this in reaction to the controversy which the casualty figure generated.
Chidi Odinkalu, a human rights lawyer, had dismissed the death toll of 66 released by the government. The lawyer said he contacted those in the areas where the killings reportedly occurred and that most people seem not to have details of the high casualty figure.
He said it could be possible that el-Rufai’s statement on the killings had political undertone.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Kaduna, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union are also among groups which have dismissed the casualty fighure.
But in a statement on Sunday, the government defended the figures it released earlier.
“The Kaduna State Government notes the concerted and apparently coordinated efforts by bigoted busy bodies to deny the Kajuru killings, or to minimise the casualty figures, and the specious arguments being deployed in this despicable quest,” the statement read.
“Only irresponsible and insensitive people can recklessly dismiss the deaths of members of a community with whom they have no contact.
“Private individuals and unelected actors cannot be allowed to reduce weighty matters of state security to the province of their limited networks, inexperienced lenses and narrow agendas.
“The government of a state cannot be detained by parochial, ethno-religious, partisan or electoral calculations from doing its duty to provide security, confirm incidents of security breaches, take steps to reassure affected communities and ensure that perpetrators are arrested and brought to justice.”
Aruwan also said the governor visited scenes of the killings on Saturday but did not say whether the places visited by the governor included both the Fulani and Adara communities affected in the conflict.
He said key security personnel in the state briefed the governor on the attacks and gave the casualty figure.
He listed Farouk Yahaya, general officer, commanding 1 division of the Nigerian army, Kaduna; Ahmad Abdulrrahman, commissioner of police in the state; A.I Koya, director of State Security Services (SSS) in Kaduna; and I Sani, a commodore of the Nigerian air force, among those who accomaonied the governor.
“Gen. Yahaya briefed the governor on the recovery of 66 corpses by soldiers in the Maro and Iri axis of Kajuru local government,” the statement read.
“The General conducted the governor around the scenes of the crime which were littered with the burnt wrecks of buildings and dead animals.
“Police Commissioner Ahmad Abdurrahman confirmed that some arrests had been made in connection with the incident and that the suspects will be charged to court as soon as investigations are completed.
“Before visiting the scene of the killings, the governor, accompanied by the security chiefs, stopped in Kasuwan Magani for a meeting with village heads and community leaders from Kajuru LGA.”