The planned 21st anniversary event in honor of a late chief and crusader of the Sayawa people of the Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro local government areas of Bauchi state, Peter Gonto, turned violent on Friday as several homes and the site of the event were destroyed and set on fire.
The two-day event held in honor of Gonto, the first Christian convert to the land of Sayawa who later became an evangelist, caused sharp divisions among the Sayawa people in both LGAs.
The punch reports that a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, who is in his fourth term and represents the constituency of Dass / Tafawa Balewa / Bogoro, wrote a letter to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, about security threats in the area, whether the memorial is allowed to stand.
Following Dogara’s letter to the IGP, a group, Concerned Mwari Youth Forum, told reporters at a press conference on Monday that the lawmaker’s claim of threats to security in the region was false, insisting on the fact that the event, slated to honor Gonto, a grandfather to Dogara’s wife, will be held as planned.
On Tuesday, another group, Mwari Youth Development Association (MWAYODA), also addressed reporters at a press conference and rejected the planned event, saying if allowed it would divide the Sayawa people and would disrupt security in the region.
But despite the warning from Dogara and MWAYODA, Bauchi State Police Commissioner Umar Sanda approved the event just as he ordered the full deployment of the police tactical teams to ensure the safety of life and property before, during and after the commemorative anniversary and book launch.
Our correspondent learned that it did not go well with the majority of the inhabitants of the two LGAs as hundreds of them traveled to the town of Tafawa Balewa where they staged a peaceful protest on Thursday afternoon demanding the cancellation of the event, which would have led to the burning of some houses in the neighborhood.
Bauchi journalists who traveled to the town of Bogoro to cover the event were unable to enter the town but had to turn back due to the violence that was brewing there.
The convoys of Bauchi’s emir, Alhaji Rilwan Adamu, and Dass’s, Alhaji Biliyaminu Oathman, who were on their way to the event were attacked and had to turn back towards Bauchi with a few vehicles in their convoy. The windshield of the Emir of Dass was among the partially destroyed vehicles.
A source told our correspondent that “when the emirs arrived at the border between Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro LGA, they were not allowed to pass because they were attacked by young people with stones and sticks and in the process, some of their vehicles were destroyed. . “
In the town of Tafawa Balewa, our correspondent observed that there was a strong presence of combined security agency teams at various strategic locations in the town.
Over 16 Hilux security vehicles from Combined Security Teams comprising officers from the Nigerian Police, Nigerian Army, Nigeria Civil Defense and Security Corps, Department of State Services, Correctional Service of Nigeria Nigeria, vigilantes and hunters, were seen at strategic places in the town of Tafawa Balewa.
It was learned that the roads leading to Bogoro through Gwarangah and Mwari were blocked by young demonstrators while some houses in the town of Bogoro were also set on fire. These are the houses that were burnt on Thursday in the town of Tafawa Balewa.
Our correspondent learned that the musical concert, which was part of the two-day activities planned for the anniversary, was successfully held on Thursday 30 in the presence of leading artists, including Dr Panam Pacy Paul.
However, unleashed women and youth besieged the government-sponsored Bogoro High School, location of the memorial conference, forcing the event scheduled for Friday, December 31 to abruptly end shortly after the book launch was presented to the public in honor of Gonto.
Subsequently, the unleashed youths burned the awnings, chairs and stage, causing those inside to run for safety.
When reporters contacted Bauchi State Police Commissioner Umar Sanda, he said command staff were still on the ground gathering information.
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