There are tensions in the town of Tafawa Balewa, in the Tafawa Balewa local government area of Bauchi State, over the commemorative 21st birthday of a leader of the Sayawa people, the late Peter Gonto.
PUNCH Metro gathered that hundreds of women and young people took to the streets to protest against the event scheduled for Thursday 30 and Friday 31 December.
It was even then that some houses were reportedly set on fire by thugs who did not want the event to take place.
Our correspondent reported that the memorial caused a division among the Sayawa people in the state’s Bogoro and Tafawa Balewa LGAs.
A former speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, who represents the Dass / Tafawa Balewa / Bogoro constituency for the fourth term, had written a letter to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, about the security concerns in the region because of the anniversary.
Following Dogara’s letter to the IG, some young people from Bogoro LGA, under the aegis of the Concerned Mwari Youth Forum, at a press conference Monday at the NUJ secretariat, Bauchi, said the legislator’s assertion was not true.
They insisted that the event held in honor of the late leader of the Sayawa people and grandfather of Dogara’s wife, Gonto, would go as planned.
Another group, Mwari Youth Development Association (MWAYODA), also spoke to reporters at a press conference on Tuesday, rejecting the planned event and saying it could lead to a breach of law and order in the region. .
Bauchi State Police Commissioner Umar Sanda approved the event, however, just as he ordered the full deployment of tactical police teams to provide security before, during and after the anniversary.
Our correspondent learned that the decision was not well received by some residents, who traveled to the town of Tafawa Balewa to stage a peaceful protest on Thursday, demanding the event be canceled.
Despite the strong presence of a combined team of security officers made up of Nigerian police, military, Department of State Services and the Nigerian Civil Defense and Security Corps, protesters marched in the main streets, singing songs of disapproval with some carrying leaves and tree branches.
A video of the protest sent to our correspondent showed protesters marching through the city, as vehicle and human movements were disrupted.
An elderly woman, who spoke at the protest, said security personnel deployed in the town harassed them.
She said: “We are currently concerned about the situation in Tafawa Balewa.
“Parents are not happy with the way things are going here because some of us have been beaten and mistreated. Something urgent must be done to prevent this land from a serious crisis.
A source, who spoke to our correspondent in Tafawa Balewa town in a telephone interview, said some houses had been set on fire by thugs in the area, adding that there was fear that other houses are set on fire.
He said: “There has been tension in the Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro LGAs following this commemorative 21st anniversary of Baba Peter Gonto. This created divisions among our people and led to the burning of houses, although I am not sure how many there are.
“As I speak to you now (4pm), a pharmacist’s house is on fire. All we want is peace in Tafawa Balewa whether or not the event takes place.
Efforts to get a reaction from the Bauchi State Police Command failed as several calls to the public relations manager, Ahmed Wakil, a police superintendent, went unanswered.
He did not return calls at the time of filing this report.
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