Read this interview between a Vanguard Correspondent with a survivor of the blood attacks against the people of Southern Kaduna, ASP Usman Gambo Kobin, as he gives accounts of how his people were killed including his 104 year old father.
The attack took place in Kobin, Numana Chiefdom, Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State and at least 48 people were reportedly killed on that day by armed herdsmen.
He talked about how they received no help or aid from the government except from some churches and the Red Cross that visits them occasionally.
Tell us your name and where you come from
My name is ASP Usman Gambo Kobin, I am a retired police officer, I am from Kobin, Numana Chiefdom, Sanga LGA of Kaduna state.
Can you recall what happened in Kobin in June, 2014?
On the 24th June, 2014 when we woke up in the morning, we learnt that some people were killed in Nandu, and some in Kabamu all in Numana Chiefdom. I then went to my old father around 7am and said, “baba, I don’t know what may happen to us today based on what we have been told but stay at home and don’t move around”. A Fulani man had actually hinted us of the impending attack but it was hard to ever imagine that our Fulani neighbours would come around to attack us.
Then around 1:30 pm, we suddenly heard gunshots. They had launched their attack. Without any weapon, and nowhere we could escape to, I told my wife to remain indoors and let us be killed with dignity in our home. But, she was too scared and insisted she wanted to run out believing she may escape. She then ran out as shooting was still going on. My 104-year-old dad whom I asked to stay indoors was outside and he was the first casualty of the attack as they shot him outside. After some time the shooting came close to my house, behind my room and since they were in my backyard, that meant that the entire village had been surrounded.
You could hear the screaming and shrieking of women and children the invaders were just killing everyone. It was horrible. They shot dead my wife as she ran out trying to escape. At the end of the shooting, nine of my relations were gunned down. I lost my father, Madaki aged 104; my elder brother, Paul aged 70; my wife, Salamatu Gambu aged 56 years; two of my brothers’ wives, Hadiza Danjuma, 35 and Helen Fedelis, 40 and the young son of my elder brother. Also killed were the wives of my elder brother’s two sons as well as elder brother’s grand daughter who was eight months pregnant.
Who were these Fulani men who carried out this attack?
Among those who carried out the killings were Fulani who were born and raised in our village. We know them and they know us also. We have been living with them since their parents gave birth to them in Kobin. We know them. Their leader is one Yakubu Alhaji Haruna who is still in Sanga area and moving freely doing what he likes. People who were killed in my village were 48. Yes, we buried 48 people in a mass grave in Kobin. They were killed by people we gave our land to settle and graze their cattle without a quarrel.
There was not even a disagreement or anything between us before the attack. That is the most annoying aspect of the killings. The mass grave is there, just beside my house. And while killing our people, they were shouting, “Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!” (“God is great” in Arabic, popular with jihadists while on mission). They were also saying “Ku Kashe Arna! Kashe Arna” (Kill the pagans! Kill the Pagans!) I was trapped in my home watching and listening. Those of us who survived are however suffering.
Why did they attack you?
I don’t know. Believe me I don’t just know why. I don’t think any person from Kobin can state a reason for the attack.
And you claim that they were living with you?
I know what I am saying. We were living together. They were just a few metres away from our homes. We ate together, went to the market together. We went to their houses, they visited our houses. During ceremonies we celebrated together. Even when their cattle destroyed our crops, we had ways of settling amicably, without going to court. We were like a model to emulate on peaceful co-existence. How could we have known that they were planning evil against us? How could we have prepared to defend ourselves living so happily together? The survivors among us who are still in the village have been living under constant fear. We don’t know what will happen any moment. So for over two years we have been under constant watch and fear.
Are the Fulani back to their homes?
They are back but they have moved their homes to a very close village called Unguwan Gora. They are there now after disappearing for over a year. So they are back and grazing their cows freely.
What has been the role of the Police and the government so far?
If the police had responded well and fast they could have stopped the killings that day. Around 10am, I informed the DPO in Gwantu (Headquarters of Sanga LGA) on phone that a good Fulani man, who did not want to get himself involved in the plot of his people had warned us that Fulani were coming to kill us that day. The DPO said that he would bring in reinforcement but he never did. 30 minutes after the massacre, some policemen who were in a convoy going to Abuja from Jos, heard the shooting and also saw houses burning when they stopped, and came to Kobin.
At that time the Fulani had started burning down houses but they fled when they saw the policemen. That was when we were able to come out of our houses. They were ready to burn us inside our houses since we did not come out. But for the policemen who were just passing by, no one was going to come out alive that day, because the Police in Gwantu came when it was too late. They met dead bodies scattered everywhere and wounded people crying in agony. The whole attack was under one hour.
Was there no sign at all that the Fulani would attack after you heard of what happened to the other villages?
If there was any sign, it was too late because in the dead of the night, while the village was sleeping, the Fulani moved their families and cattle quietly out of the village. We woke up and discovered that their part of the village was deserted. That got us worried. Then early that morning, one Fulani man called Kaole who liked to crack jokes a lot appeared. He had also moved his cattle and family away. He told us to move out our women and children that Fulani were coming to kill us. You could not be sure if he was joking or was serious.
So, we thought it was his usual jokes. Not long after he left, they came. It was very regrettable we did not take him serious. Kaole never really left. It was his family that went. He was staying with us and assisting us with information. Then on the 31st of December, 2014, I will never forget that date, they came for him. They just walked into his house and shot him point blank and left him dead.
Did you not report those you saw to the police, especially the man called Haruna?
Of course we did. As a former Police Officer I did. The Yakubu Haruna was arrested at a time and then set free later. Everyone, including the then DPO knew about his involvement. This was a Fulani that was born in Kobin and we grew together. The entire Numana Chiefdom knew his notoriety for organising such killings. Yet he is still moving about freely.
You mean he is still in Kobin?
No, he has moved away from Kobin to Unguwan Nungu, still in Numana chiefdom. But while going to Gwantu or Akwanga, he would always pass by Kobin, even as we are speaking now, he may have passed again.
How has been farming after this attack?
It has not been easy, I can tell you that. As for us who refused to run, we cannot go to the farm alone. We go at least in a small group, and it does not matter because they can still move their cows to eat our crops while we are watching and there is nothing we can do about it. If you challenge them or protest they kill you or injure you severely. Look, the Fulani in my place are now always armed. If you see them in the market with that their small bags, there is likely be a pistol inside, apart from the daggers and cutlasses they are always carrying. They have become very dangerous now. If they enter your farm, they will tell you that if you talk they will kill you and nothing will come out of it
What is the population of the Fulani compared to the Numana people?
We outnumber them by far. It is just that violence is very strange to us. If you are a Christian, you cannot just think of injuring or even killing someone you have been so close to. And when they want to come for a raid, they would invite other Fulani from the outside well armed. So, they come in high numbers when they want to attack but if it were to be the local Fulani, I am sure we can handle them.
What kind of assistance did you get from government?
Look, since those killings took place, Kaduna State government has not done anything for us. Nothing. Not even a condolence visit. Even the Chief of Numana has not stepped into Kobin to see what happened to his subjects. It is only Churches and the Red Cross – God bless them – that have assisted us.