From Kasuwar Magani, a town in the southern part of Kaduna State, MUHAMMAD SABIU reports that falling in love has become a dangerous venture among youths in the community as a crisis broke out early last week Monday as a result of religious differences.
KASUWAR Magani, a town in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State has always been a controversial town. Populated by a local people called Adara on one hand and Hausas, Kajuru is still today a town hotly contested for by the two major groups.
A resident of the town who gave his name as Mallam Abdullahi believes the Hausa own the town. He told the Sunday Tribune that over 100 years ago the first person to settle in the town was a Hausa man. According to him, ‘the Adara people who claim ownership of the town were idol worshippers living in the surrounding thick forests.
“They were living in those hills behind the town. It was later when they saw us here in Kasuwar Magani they began to come out from the mountains and settled with us. That’s the reason you see that the population of the Hausa community is appreciable,” he said.
Thus, 40 years ago, the town came to the front burner of national discourse when violence erupted leading to loss of lives and destruction of property. Then governor of the state, Alhaji Balarabe Musa quickly intervened by introducing a curfew.
Mallam Yusuf Auta who witnessed the mayhem recalled that, “one morning, the Adara community felt they were gradually being marginalised by the Hausa community. They said the claim by the Hausa that they own the town was untrue and false,“ he said, adding that the Adara began to spread the sentiments among their people and until a crisis erupted.
It was gathered that the Kasuwar Magani crisis of 1980 was regarded as the first crisis that broke out in Southern Kaduna. A community leader in the area, who pleaded for anonymity, said the two communities had since then been living in peace with each other.
“There is no recorded case of any misunderstanding that I didn’t know. I can also recall the leaders then not only agreed to sheath their swords but also signed what could be regarded as a peace deal,” he narrated.
Findings gathered that over the years, Kasuwar Magani became economically buoyant. The Hausa residents erected shops and became owners of some business enterprises. Other tribes too like the Igbo and the Yoruba came to settle in the area.
A staff member of the Kaduna Refinery and Petro-Chemical Company, Mr Bulus Gabriel, told Sunday Tribune that “some of the NNPC staff built their houses in Kasuwar Magani because of its proximity to the refinery.”
Gabriel also recalled that the Southern Kaduna crisis in the state has also compelled people to choose where to stay in order to have rest of mind and Kasuwar Magani location is a factor.
“People now stay where their safety is guaranteed. So, many of the Christian members of staff in the refinery from the Southern part of the state had chosen to settle in Kasuwar Magani. The town has grown to become one of the bubbly towns in Southern Kaduna and even in the whole state.
“Every Saturday, the influx of people into the town is awesome. People from far and near come to make purchases. We have a big market. Some come here to unwind with their spouses and even drink to stupor,” he stated, noting that the town has enjoyed relative peace as everyone saw one another as brothers.
However, events of the last two weeks had changed everything. Sunday Tribune investigations revealed that the genesis of the current crisis started when leaders in Adara community, who are mostly Christians, allegedly told their girls to stop falling in love with Hausa boys.
Elaborating further, a resident in the area, who did not want to be identified, remarked that “our girls are fond of falling in love with the Muslim boys in the community. We want them to stop that,” he explained.
Another resident gave further reason why some elders frowned on their girls having relationships with their Muslim neighbours: “most often, they (the girls) will leave their houses to go and stay with the Muslim boys. We have many cases like that.”
Speaking in the same vein, a Christian youth in the area who gave his name as Amos Ishaya said the complaint was about the attitude of their girls. “Our girls go after the Muslim boys because of the money. They give them money and buy clothes for them.”
However, the last straw that broke the camel’s back was when the news emerged that a Christian girl converted to Islam. The family of the girl, it was learnt, didn’t find the issue a joke. They subsequently reported the case to the concerned authorities.
Just as the matter was being looked into, another girl reportedly converted to Islam. Investigations gathered that the Adara youths held a meeting, to not only denounce the conversion of the girls, but were also said to have vowed to ensure that they maintain their faith without hesitation.
“We found the news of their conversion unacceptable, because our investigation revealed that they were forcefully compelled to accept Islam,” a source said.
This claim was, however, dispelled by a resident of the town, Mallam Inuwa Musa, who contended that the girls were never forced against their will to convert. He told Sunday Tribune that the two girls, including those before them, on their own volition chose to accept Islam.
“We have many cases of inter-marriages in this community. Why must it be now? Why are they kicking against it? I think there is more to it than meets the eye,” he stressed.
As tension mounted over a possible breakdown of law and order in the community, a meeting was immediately summoned by the elders of the community. At the end of the meeting, it was agreed, among others, that the leaders of both groups should talk to their youths to sheath their swords and maintain the well-known peaceful coexistence in the community.
It was also agreed that the elders should talk to their wards not to fall in love with any person who does not have the same faith with them. The girls in question were also asked to return to their houses since it was learnt that they both left their homes.
Sunday Tribune learnt that on Monday, last week, Adara youths allegedly mobilised to attack the houses they felt were holding the girls when discovered that the girls had not returned to their houses. Indeed, the violence which lasted for the two hours led to the destruction of several houses, while over 1,000 shops were set ablaze. The state police commissioner, Mr Austin Iwar, confirmed that 12 people were killed in the mayhem.
In an effort to stem the crisis from spreading to other parts of the state, the state government quickly directed security agencies to send their personnel to the area to restore order. In a statement issued by the governor’s media aide, Samuel Aruwan, the state government condemned the mayhem. He said government will prosecute those behind the arson and directed security agents to arrest them as soon as possible.
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