- by E. Nriezedi
- 5:28 AM July 02, 2022
The 21st anniversary event scheduled to honour a late leader and crusader of the Sayawa people of Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro local government areas of Bauchi State, Peter Gonto, on Friday turned violent as several houses and the venue of the event were destroyed and burnt down.
The two-day event organised in honour of Gonto, the first Christian convert in Sayawa land who later became an evangelist, caused sharp division among the Sayawa people in the two LGAs.
The reports that a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, who is in his fourth term representing Dass/Tafawa Balewa/Bogoro Constituency, had written a letter to the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, over security threats in the area, should the memorial be allowed to hold.
Following Dogara’s letter to the IGP, a group, Concerned Mwari Youth Forum, told journalists at a press conference on Monday that the claim by the Lawmaker of security threats in the area was untrue, insisting that the event, planned to honour Gonto, a grandfather to Dogara’s wife, will hold as planned.
Another group, Mwari Youth Development Association (MWAYODA), on Tuesday, also addressed journalists at a press conference and rejected the planned event saying if it is allowed to hold, it will divide the Sayawa people and cause the breakdown of security in the area.
But despite the warning by Dogara and MWAYODA, the Bauchi State Commissioner of Police, Umar Sanda, gave approval for the event to hold just as he ordered the full deployment of Police tactical teams to provide security to lives and properties before, during and after the memorial anniversary and book launch.
Our Correspondent learnt that this did not go down well with majority of the people from the two LGAs as hundreds of them travelled to Tafawa Balewa town where they staged a peaceful protest on Thursday afternoon demanding the cancellation of the event, allegedly leading to the burning down of some houses in the area.
Journalists from Bauchi who went to Bogoro town for the coverage of the event could not enter the town but had to turn back because of the brewing violence there.
The convoys of the Emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Rilwan Adamu, and that of Dass, Alhaji Biliyaminu Oathman, who were on their way to the event were attacked and had to turn back to Bauchi with some vehicles in their convoy. The windscreen of the Emir of Dass was among the vehicles partly destroyed.
A source told our correspondent that “when the Emirs got to the border between Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro LGA, they were not allowed to pass through as they were attacked by the youths with stones and sticks and in the process, some of their vehicles were destroyed.”
At the Tafawa Balewa town, our Correspondent observed that there was a heavy presence of combined teams of security agencies at various strategic locations in the town.
More than 16 security Hilux vehicles of combined security teams including operatives of the Nigeria Police, Nigerian Army, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Department of State Service, Nigeria Correctional Service, vigilante and hunters, were seen at strategic locations in Tafawa Balewa town.
It was learnt that the roads into Bogoro through Gwarangah and Mwari were blocked by the protesting youths while some houses in Bogoro town were also burnt down. This is besides the houses that were burnt down in Tafawa Balewa town on Thursday.
Our Correspondent learnt that the musical concert which was part of the two days activities lined up for the anniversary, was successfully held on Thursday, 30th with prominent artists including Dr Panam Pacy Paul in attendance.
However, rampaging women and youths besieged Government Secondary School, Bogoro, the venue of the memorial lecture, forcing the event scheduled for Friday, December 31, to end abruptly shortly after the book launch in honour of Gonto was presented to the public.
The rampaging youths, thereafter, burnt down the canopies, chairs and the stage causing those there to scamper for safety.
When journalists contacted the Commissioner of Police, Bauchi State, Umar Sanda, he said that the Command’s personnel were still on the ground gathering information.