Kaduna After the Mayhem
Residents of Kaduna are still counting their losses after the recent post-election riots in which hundreds of lives were lost
Residents of Kaduna are yet to recover from the shock that followed three days of political violence that engulfed the state after the April 16 presidential poll. Hundreds of people lost their lives and property worth billions of Naira were destroyed. The city of Kaduna, which used to be a beehive of business and political activities, has now lost its vibrancy. Many business outfits such as boutiques, relaxation centres and some banks remained closed as at press time last week.
The reason for the slow pace of business activities in the state is not just the three-day riot alone but the extent of destruction of lives and properties by the rioters. Many business premises destroyed will need time to be rebuilt. For instance, in Rigasa area of the state, it will take months if not a year to rebuild Mr. Biggs fast food centre, which was looted and burnt down by the rioters.
Another reason for the slow pace of business activities is the curfew imposed in the state. Consequently, most transactions in the state are now done in a hurry by people to avoid violating the curfew.
Nonetheless, most residents in the state still live in fear. Since the day of infamy when most of the inhabitants abandoned their homes to take refuge in nearby military barracks after thugs suspected to be supporters of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, unleashed violence in the state, many of them are yet to return to their homes.
Patrick Yakowa, governor of Kaduna State, is not happy with the situation. Sensing that the Governorship and National Assembly election could be marred by poor voter turnout should the people of the state continue to live in fear, he appealed to those who have been in the barracks since the fighting broke out to return to their homes. He said security agencies were on top of the situation and the state was now safe. The same appeal was also made by Haruna John, Kaduna State commissioner of police. But despite these assurances, many who fled their homes still refused to go back.
At the Dalet military barracks in Kawo, many people are still taking refuge in the camp provided by the military authorities to accommodate residents fleeing their homes to safety. Some of the people in the camp told Newswatch that they would not go back to their homes now for fear of another outbreak of violence. Ignatius Aleke, one of such residents, said he was still not convinced that the crisis was over. He said he was not prepared to leave the camp until he relocates to another area where he believes is safe.
The case of Janet Ayuba is worse, she has no home to return to even if she wanted to heed the governor’s appeal. Ayuba, whose home on Kudansa Street, Kawo, Kaduna was vandalised and razed in the second day of the orgy of violence by the rioters said: “After they looted everything in sight, the house was set ablaze. For me, it is not a question of not wanting to return home; there is no home to return to.” She said once her husband gets some money, she and her four children would be relocating to their home town in Mubi, Adamawa State, since it is safer to stay far away from Kaduna.
The fear of residents in Kaduna, worsened last week, when a bomb exploded at the Rafin Guza area of the state. The bomb explosion is believed to be the handiwork of a Boko Haram chieftain, who had come to recruit and train youths in the art of making explosives. When the police raided the area, five persons were arrested including their leader. The police also recovered from the scene of the bomb blast, the corpse of one of the suspects who was killed in the explosion in addition to eight sophisticated locally made rifles, pistols and a flag of the CPC.
Youths took to the street, after the presidential elections of April 16, resulting in targeted killings of youth corps members deployed by INEC as polling officials. Many other people were attacked and murdered. Some private and public buildings were targeted and destroyed churches were among them.