Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Two weeks after violence rocked Kasuwan Magani in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State, the Igbo community is still searching for several of its missing kinsmen even as people take stock of the losses they incurred in the ugly incident.
To this end, leaders of the Igbo community in Kaduna have been holding series of meetings as they continued the search for their missing ones.
Recall that a communal crisis erupted at Kasuwan Magani, where several people were killed, many houses and other property were burnt by the rioters.
However, the Chairman, Igbo Community Welfare Association (ICWA), Kasuwan Magani chapter, Mr. Tobias Udeh, said though the missing men are alive, they could not be reached. He added that efforts were being intensified to locate them.
Udeh said: “As I speak to you, I cannot locate some of our people. We don’t know whether they have relocated to the East or to the neigbouring communities. We are still searching for them. But all we know is that they are alive. We didn’t lose any Igbo man. But we don’t know their whereabouts. Many Igbo lost property worth hundreds of millions of naira.
“I personally lost millions of naira following the burning of my property. It was not quite long I received fresh supply that the place was set ablaze.
“On the day of the incident, I went to one village to buy chicken for the celebration of my birthday which I always mark on February 27 of every year. I left my house as early as 6:00a.m and by the time I returned around 9:00a.m, I discovered that my wife was not in the house. One of my children told me that she had travelled to Kaduna town to buy some items.
“I went to my shop where I operate patent medicine shop, and later went to the other shop where I do wholesale on soft drinks. I made sure that I put things in order for my workers every day before I go for other business.
“But after few minutes, I saw people running helter-skelter, and I asked my daughter what was the problem after I left the house in the morning?
“My daughter said that some people wanted to covert a Christian girl to Islam, and her parents did not want that and so they forced their daughter back home. She said there was commotion everywhere, and the youths started taking laws into their hands.
“So before we knew it, people started locking up their shops, schools were hurriedly closed, everybody was confused. I rushed back to the house and picked my car, drove to the school to pick my children. After picking them, I couldn’t drive back to the main road again because everywhere was blocked with bonfire by the rampaging youths. I took a bush path and drove straight to Kaduna and got my children to safety. I later made effort to return to Kasuwan Magani, but it became a go-no-area. I returned to Kaduna. I told my wife to remain in Kaduna and not contemplate of returning to Kasuwan Magani.”
Udeh who is a nurse by profession and whose wife also runs a pharmaceutical shop that serves as a community health centre, said that the place was burnt by irate youths.
“We did not take away a pin from the place. The place was looted before it was set ablaze. So many shops were burnt to ashes. I have been living in Kasuwan Magani for more than 30 years now, but I cannot explain why Igbo are always the target whenever incidents of this nature occur. Igbo people don’t have problem with anybody but they are always the big losers.
“My family is presently squatting with my sister in Kaduna. We are calling on government to come to our aid over this incident,” he said
Corroborating Udeh’s stand on the missing men, the Coordinator, ICWA Zonal Delegate Meeting, Mr Thaddy Ogbonna said: “This was an unfortunate incident. We have been holding meetings to know where some of our members have gone to in the wake of the crisis. However, we are suspecting that some of them may have relocated to the East.
“We are calling on the state government to help all the victims, particularly the Igbo who lost property worth millions of naira. It is also unfortunate that wherever Igbo find themselves and they are progressing, people become envious of them instead of partnering with them. It is high time government intervened to safeguard the Igbo business not only in Kaduna, but all over the country.”
Meanwhile, the Kaduna State government said that 63 persons had been arrested in connection with the mayhem.
Making this disclosure, Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary, Kaduna State Ministry of justice, Chris Umar, said: “After completion of initial investigation the 63 people were charged before the Chief Magistrate Court 6, Daura Road, Kaduna. Those arrested were charged for offences ranging from criminal conspiracy, rioting while armed with offensive weapons, culpable homicide punishable with death, unlawful assembly while armed with offensive weapons and inciting disturbance to peace, all of which are contrary to sections 59, 67, 190, 78 of the Penal Code, Laws of Kaduna State, 2017.
“The case was mentioned and then adjourned to March 15, 2018, to enable the police conclude their investigations, while the 63 suspects were ordered to be remanded in prison custody with the exception of one Theophilius Sa’idu, who is an underaged person.
“He was handed over to a reliable surety while the police continue their investigation. A total of 12 people were killed during a crisis.”