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Bauchi Mayhem - The day after

Posted by By PAUL ORUDE, Bauchi on 2007/12/16 | Views: 455 |

Bauchi Mayhem - The day after

Tuesday December 11, 2007 started like any normal day for residents of Yelwa in Bauchi State capital as they woke up and went about their lawful activities for the day.

Tuesday December 11, 2007 started like any normal day for residents of Yelwa in Bauchi State capital as they woke up and went about their lawful activities for the day.

Little did they know that it would be a day that religious sentiments would once again boil over in the state, leading to loss of lives and wanton destruction of properties.

However, many of them were oblivious of a crisis that had been brewing for two weeks, over the construction of a Mosque at the Government Secondary School, Babantakko in the Yelwa area.

The development, it was gathered, had given rise to security reports of a possible crisis but which residents believed was not properly handled by the authorities.

Angry residents of the state capital believe that the Tuesday crisis, which got worse the next day, could have been averted if the security reports were acted upon.

What started like a small disagreement in Babbantakko, gradually degenerated and consumed lives and property worth several millions of naira, six months into the life of the Mallam Isa Yuguda administration.
Sunday Sun gathered that the genesis of the crisis was the destruction, by unknown persons, twice of the mosque by those opposed to the idea of sighting it within the secondary school premises.
This was said to have led to suspicion as one version of the story said the Christian community in Babatanko had taken exception to the construction of the Mosque inside the school compound.
It was gathered that following the pulling down of the structure for the second time, a group mounted vigil to see the ‘enemy’, and what resulted was a confrontation, and several heads rolled.

Yuguda hurries home
Worst hit were Lushi, Rafin Zurfi, Anguwar Kasiu where many residential houses and worship centres were razed down.
The popular Elim Church, along the Yelwa road, was almost burnt down that Tuesday as all the musical equipment were set on fire.
The confusion, which brought social and economic activities in the Yelwa area to a standstill, led to anxiety as families withdrew their children from schools and ran too the barracks for fear of being attacked.
The state governor, Mallam Isa Yuguda cut short his trip to Saudi Arabia and flew back to the state at about 5.15 pm and went straight to the troubled area. He was accompanied by the AIG, Zone 12, Yusuf Haruna, the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Adanaya T. Gaya, the Brigade Commander of the 33 ARTILLERY Brigade, Bauchi Brig-General Ishaya Maigari, the Secreatray to the State Gopvernemnt, Alhaji Ahmed Dandija and other senior government officials.
Gaya told the governor that only one person was killed. Yuguda later visited the victims who ran to take refuge at police and army barracks and begged them to be patient as the government would do everything possible to restore normalcy and while sympathizing with some of the victims decried the resort to mayhem. He vowed to deal with the perpetrators.
He later entered into an emergency meeting with religious and traditional leaders and top government officials on the situation.

How blood flowed
“It will be difficult for me to recover from what happened to me. I can’t even quantify the damage for now but I have lost property worth millions and documents that I can’t buy in the market,” said Rev. Joshua Maina, a Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) governorship candidate in the April 2007 general elections.
The politician, whose house in Rafin Zurfi area of Yelwa was completely burnt down by rioters on Tuesday morning, described what happened as barbaric.
He told Sunday Sun: “I came at a point when Christians wanted to react. I tried to convince them not to retaliate and I was able to pacify them until policemen came and when the security men came, they did nothing as youths, both Muslims and Christians were charging at each other.”
He continued: “I also went to the Muslim youths and talked to them. They explained their grievances and I saw reason with them. They assured me that they were willing to pull out.
“While doing this, one of the Muslim youths was brought in with a severed arm. He was bleeding profusely. He was said to have been cut while defending himself from his attackers.
“I took him to the clinic and paid for his treatment. I came back to see my house has been razed down and policed officers were just standing there doing nothing. This was around 10 am.”
Alhaji Baba Sarki Pawa lives opposite the Yellwa police barracks. But his house was burnt down around 5pm. “My 504 pick up car was smashed while I was sitting right in front of my house,” he lamented as he narrated his ordeal to Sunday Sun.
“It was the police people that burnt my house. I saw them and I know them,” he claimed, adding that this happened after he had secured his family at the Customs Barracks. “I can identify those that burnt my house. They were policemen. They threw canisters into my house and two of them threw bottles of fuel inside my house. I saw them. This happened right in front of the police station,” he said.
There was relative calmness after the governor’s visit that evening. Few residents of Yelwa went to sleep with one eye open, as security was beefed and nine-hour curfew imposed on Yelwa.

More lamentations
Sulmalkya James, a civil servant with the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs, like many families, lost all he had laboured for in the crisis, as his house was razed down on Wednesday while he watched helplessly.
He said: “I was just transferred from Abuja to Bauchi and I had moved in with my wife and two children I was an eye witness to all what happened. When I got wind that they were coming, I took my family to the barracks. They came and set our house on fire. I lost my HND certificate, my NYSC certificate. Even my wife’s certificates were burnt. So tell me, where do we start from again?”
For Mary Musa, 22, who lived with her parents, she was at home when arsonists came to her father’s house. “When they entered, I was the only one at home; they started beating me with sticks and wanted to kill me. I can’t recall know how I escaped. They were beating me and setting the house on fire at the same time.”
By Wednesday morning, while mobile policemen were on patrol, rioters capitalized on their absence in some areas and continued burning houses and killing of innocent people.
Around 9am, residents were shocked to hear that Yelwa was now a no-go area as the killings and burning resumed, thus creating fear among residents in other parts of the city.
Schools shut, soldiers deployed to streets
The situation paralyzed economic and social activities as the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) was forced to close down.
Almost by the hour, the level of destruction increased, and the killings intensified.
Burnt houses and shops became common sight around Anguwar Kashiu, and Yelwa Tudu areas.
As the death toll rose, there was now panic among citizens that the crisis would extend to flash points such as Kobi, Bakarau, Yandoka, Wunti while thousands fled to police and army barracks for safety.

And Yuguda wept
By 11:35, the governor went round the affected areas once and again, it was reported that he shed tears at the level of destruction.
Thousands of people were seen carrying their possessions and advancing towards the Police Barracks in Yelwa, the Shadawanka Brracks
Some of them complained that the government had been slow in curtailing the crisis from day one. But Mr. Gaya announced the arrest of 20 suspects
Yet, Moblie policemen and soldiers were seen patrolling the troubled spots.
The governor was to later confirm that only four people were killed in the two-day riots. The governor also confirmed that a few houses, including places of worship for both Christians and Moslems, were either completely razed down or vandalized as well as a number of cars while many people have fled their various homes and are now taking refuge in Police and Army Barracks, a development he described as sad and unfortunate.

Usual ritual
Following the mayhem, the State Government has set up a 13-man Committee of Inquiry to find out the remote and immediate causes of the crisis. The government also appealed for peaceful coexistence among the people of the state. The committee is given 10 days to submit its findings

Religious leaders react
Chief Imam of Bauchi central Mosque, Bala Baba Inna described that crisis as most unfortunate and an act of political intolerance. According to him, the problem had nothing to do with religion, but was only tied around it in order to achieve the aim of causing trouble because according to him religion has now become a tool for fomenting trouble by a few disgruntled elements in the society.
The State Chairman of CAN, Dauda Jimra who was almost lynched by a Christian youths because he refused to allow them participate in the crisis, said that it was most unfortunate that the youths are allowing themselves to be used by a few self-centered politicians who do not want anything good to come out the present administration.

History of mayhem
Bauchi State, known as Home of Peace and Hospitality, has paradoxically been dogged by crisis. In April 1991, the National Sports Festival hosted by the state was cancelled following riots which led to deaths of many innocent citizens and destruction of properties worth millions of Naira.
In 1995, there was another round of blood-letting. Similarly in 2001 and 2003, when blood flowed in parts of the State.

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Comments (3)

Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown