By Suzan Edeh, BAUCHI
Just when everybody thought that ethno-religious crisis in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State had become a thing of the past, the sleeping dog in the area was once again roused when persons suspected to be Fulani herds men launched an attack in the early hours of Thursday morning last week. The attackers were said to be on a revenge mission.
Unlike the last crisis in the area, the cause of the present fracas was not associated with the game of snooker. Rather it was said to be a calculated attempt by the Fulani herdsmen to cause problem and possess the land, a situation regarded as a twin brother to what is happening in Plateau State.
Vanguard Metro gathered that as early as 5 am that Thursday, some people(suspected to be Fulani), dressed in black, launched a surprise reprisal attack in the area, razing down villages like Kuturu, Malanchi, Gongo, Gumel and Gital in the local government.
The Secretary of Sawaya Council of Elders in Bogoro and Tafawa Balewa, Bukata Zhadi, who spoke to Vanguard Metro on phone, said that the crisis was a direct result of a recent statement by the state governor, Isa Yuguda, where he threatened to relocate the entire town should there occur any form of disturbance again in the area. He also blamed the state government for not addressing the problem in the area as it should, adding that failure to do this is responsible for the recurring incident.
He said: “The cause of this present crisis can be traced to the recent statement of the governor, when he said he was going to demolish the town and hand it over to the Fulani men for grazing should there be any form of disturbance again by the people. And true to his words, the Fulanis invaded the villages with dangerous weapons, shooting sporadically and burning down houses. So the Governor has actually succeeded in demolishing the area”.
The Secretary further blamed the state government for closing down Government Day Girls Secondary school, Bununu and transfering its teachers as well as closure of the local government secretariat, adding that the closure was targeted at causing the crisis in the local government. He also blamed security operatives for their failure in arresting the situation on time.
Confirming the incident to newsmen, Police Public Relation Officer(PPRO), Bauchi State Police Command, Mohammed Barau, said they were fully aware of the problem in Tafawa Balewa and have deployed policemen to the area in order to restore sanity and calm. The PPRO, who disclosed that no arrest has so far been made and that the situation was under control, however did not disclose if there was any causality.
Reacting to the incident, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on media affairs, dismissed allegation that the state government was responsible for the crisis, adding that the attackers came from neighbouring states with the intention to foment trouble in the state.
Concerning the relocation of the residents in the local government, Sanusi said: “The Governor of the state still stand on his words to relocate the entire area should the crisis there continue. If Tafawa Balewa does not want to live in peace, the Governor will relocate them so that they can continue their violence elsewhere and not in Bauchi State. Enough is enough”.
When contacted, the Commissioner of Police, Bauchi , Mohammed Indabawa, confirmed the incident, saying: “Of a truth, there was a crisis that took place in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State and we found three dead bodies that were burnt beyond recognition. Presently I have deployed my men to restore sanity to the area. But we have not confirmed any further deaths or made any arrest at the moment, until we are through with our investigations; we will get back to you”.