Christian youths in Kaduna carried out reprisal attacks on Muslims following Sunday’s bomb explosions in the cities of Kaduna and Zaria. An eyewitness, Mr.Ifeanyi Ugochukwu spoke with SouthEastNigeria.com from the Nassarawa settlement. Born and raised in Kaduna, Ugochukwu is an indigene of Umuahia, Abia State. In this interview with SouthEastNigeria.com, he justifies the retaliation but insists it is safer to live in Kaduna. Find out why and much more.
SouthEastNigeria.com: Was yesterday’s reprisal attack a long planned strategy?
Response: Not really but, experience has taught us to always be at alert. With the recent killings of Christians in the North, we have always known that a church could be attacked in Kaduna at any time so we will not just fold our hands like those in other states. A mere rumour can get us to swing into action with five minutes.
The instant we learnt of the explosion and that a church had been attacked, we swung into action. A near by community, Gonin-gora were the first to react.
I counted up to four people who were killed in my presence. Clubbed to death. The sight of blood is no longer new to us. Another part of it is that, if you try to mediate out of compassion u must learn to control it or they may come against you. They will ask you “if they killed ur brother in that church will you say it?”
SouthEastNigeria.com: Why do you choose to remain in the North ?
Response: I was born here in kaduna. All of us. The thing is, I have been to the East. Two or three times. I’m from Umuahia and life down there is something else. Cost of things, the attitude of people, and all those things we see in Nigerian movies about charms, poisons and other acts of wickedness.
And there is a way that kaduna is different from other Northern states. It is like Lagos or America. Tribes from every part of the country and from outside. I’m talking about the Southern part of Kaduna capital.
In summary, my sister, we know some Igbos that ran back to the East some years ago, after the crisis in 2000. Few months later, some of them ran back to Kaduna. Some of their children had died back home. Some returned, very sick. The relatives only catered for them only few days after they escaped to the east, and then they were left on their own. We would like to return but as it stands now, it is safer living in Kaduna than relocating to the east.
SouthEastNigeria.com: Why do you believe Kaduna is safer?
Response:The South side of Kaduna is a christian zone. The truth is, not that any Igbo person prefers the north over the east. The first thing an igbo thinks of is survival and conducive life. What do you have to say, when i escape to the east, only to be robbed or kidnapped by the people i conside as my own brothers and sisters?
SouthEastNigeria.com:How would you describe the relationship between the Yakowa Administration and the Igbo Community?
Response: Governor Yakowa has a good relationship with the Igbos. He is a Christian too and comes from a minority tribe. During the campaign, he had to persuade the igbos’s not to leave.We voted for him because thought he would secure adequate security and level development in the State… better roads, constant power supply etc. The way Kaduna is, since 1992, the demography of Kaduna has been rearranged. The seat of power is located in the North. The Hausa’s dominate the North while the Christians are mostly in the South and it is where we feel safe but here we lack the basic amenities. Now the Governor is planning to come out in 2015 but I doubt he will make it unless he does something to improve on the relationship with us from now till then. Most of the key positions are still held by the Hausa’s. Only 3 posts went to people from Kaduna South. It is very serious because the powers that be are controlling him. He favours more of their projects in the North.
SouthEastNigeria.com: In terms of security, do you feel the Kaduna State Government is doing enough to protect the lives of non – indigenes and Christians?
Response: Unfortunately, the Governor is not doing enough. This is the first time a Christian is becoming a Governor of Kaduna State. We thought having one of our own will bring a change but a lot of us are disappointed and I think he knows that.
SouthEastNigeria.com:What is Vice President Namadi Sambo remembered for during his tenure as Governor of Kaduna State?
Response: First, I will say we remember him for Security. Even though he built on things laid on ground by his predecessor, Ahmed Markafi , most of the time, he spent it on Security.He didn’t do much on infracture. Markafi did all that even in the South. When Sambo was Governor, he donated more patrol vans to the Police but even at that, you will see his face on all the vehicles. (Laughter)
Another thing we remember him for is the Rail system. We have an intra-city train that runs from Kaduna South to the Central market in the North. So that is something we are very happy about.
SouthEastNigeria.com: Now that Security has become a major issue of concern in Churches, do you still attend regular church services ?
Response: I still go regularly. Sundays and during the week. You know that here in Nigeria we are religious. Just as Muslims will go to their mosques on Fridays, we Christians still go to church . We have heard of attacks in other parts of the North but this is the first time it has happened in Kaduna.
SouthEastNigeria.com: Moving forward, what is the stance of the Christian faith in Kaduna?
Response:We are prepared to retaliate.The churches are not doing enough to protect us but unfortunately, the Church is not doing enough to protect us. They collect offering at every service so they should use money from there to buy weapon for its members. We know that Jesus says turn the other cheek , but then some of those are quick to quote scriptures that tell us to defend ourselves when they come to kill us.
We are ready to set our Bibles down for five minutes and do what we need to do to protect our selves.