Kasuwan Magani is the Hausa name of a small settlement on Kaduna-Kachia road in Kajuru local government area of Kaduna state. The name literally means a drugs market. It is where medicinal herbs are sold. In other words, the market or community symbolizes life. However, in recent times, this symbol has been reversed: it is now a killing field. How regrettable!
In February, this year, an amorous affair between a Muslim young man and a Christian young lady reportedly sparked an orgy of killings and arson. A belated intervention by the security forces led to the arrest of 88 youths who still have not been prosecuted 8 months after. Then last Thursday, Oct. 18, the community turned against itself again. In less than 24 hours, a misunderstanding between two wheelbarrow pushers, one a Christian and the other a Muslim; led to a bloody communal clash that left 55 persons dead, private residences and public buildings destroyed.
Three days later, rumours about the Kasuwan Magani killings reached Kaduna, the state capital, sparking killings in neighbourhoods controlled by Muslims and Christians. According to the police and Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency (KASEMA), 23 persons were killed in the reprisals that followed the Kasuwan Magani confrontation. The police said they arrested 25 persons in connection with the Kaduna violence. Governor Nasir el-Rufai, who Sunday slapped a 24-hour curfew on the city, said in a broadcast that the government would “fast-track” prosecution of suspects linked to the two incidents “to serve as a deterrent”. The governor explained that the 24-hour curfew was imposed to “forestall further breakdown of law and order”, and as far as he could tell, that has largely succeeded.
We welcome the reported return of peace to Kasuwan Magani and Kaduna. However, we fear, this peace will subsist for only as long as the security forces have men on the ground to police or secure it. Secondly, as long as the roots of the communal conflict in Kasuwan Magani, have not been uprooted, the clashes are sure to recur. Thirdly, the slow wheel of justice that has stalled the prosecution of suspects has to be cranked up to run faster. When suspects are not quickly tried and proven criminals brought to book, this can only breed impunity. Fourthly, rumour-mongering fuelled the reprisals that happened in Kaduna on Sunday. This could have been averted if the security forces had acted quickly to stop the killings in Kasuwan Magani or at least minimize the bloodletting. It would also have stopped the social media from feeding on and stoking the rumours.
True, the state government does not control the security forces, meaning that it can give instructions but it cannot compel their enforcement. However, there are ways of enlisting the cooperation of the security forces. One way is to help them with logistics like communication gadgets and transport vehicles. Some state governments do this and the result in terms of crime prevention has been salutary. We also know that governors have set up security advisory councils membership of which includes the military, police and other security agencies. They are expected to meet regularly to review security situations. The problem is that these meetings are irregular and are called only after a crisis has erupted and the damage done.
This said, we believe that the people that are the best suited to solve Kasuwan Magani’s perennial violent eruptions are the locals themselves. The Christian and Muslim leaders in the area must not only be heard to preach peace but also be seen to embrace tolerance. The traditional institution too has a role to play by stopping deviance among the youths of the community. Finally, a way must be worked out to bring these various stakeholders together to work in the interest of a permanent peace in the community.