June 20, 2009

Tension in southern Kaduna as police stop seminar on politics


TENSION was thick in the air yesterday   in Kagoro, Kaura Local Government Area (LGA) of southern  Kaduna as prominent politicians, academics and royal fathers from the area were stopped by the police from attending a seminar on politics organized by a youth forum.

Kagoro is about four kilometres from Kafanchan, the political headquarters of Southern Kaduna Senatorial Zone, and about 200 kilometres south of Kaduna metropolis.

The zone, which includes Zangon Kataf LGA, has been a flash point as the mainly Christian population have had running battles with Muslim, Hausa Fulani communities in the area over social and religious issues.

Youths, elders and leaders of thought from the zone, gathered in groups in Kafanchan, speaking about the development and the next action to take. At press time, there was palpable tension, as words filtered to the surrounding areas that the police were taking some of the participants and organizers of  the seminar away.

But that turned out to be false as Sunday Vanguard caught up with the organizers in a small hotel in Kafanchan, holding a meeting.

The seminar, tagged, “Democracy in southern Kaduna: Let the truth be told”, had in attendance Senator Isaiah Balat, former minister of transport, and Mr. Felix Hyatt, former minister of aviation, Barr. Mark Jacob, former national legal adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. Jonathan Asake, former special assistant to former President Olusegun Obassanjo, former chairmen of LGAs from the zone, among others.

There were other politicians from the northern part of the state  who had come to attend the seminar among them was Dr. Abdumalik Durunguwa, a special assistant to the governor.

The paramount chief of Kagoro, Agwan Bonnet Ufuwai, the only first class chief from the zone, was to lead other royal fathers. But they were stopped at the last minute.

The Police, who barricaded the venue – Kaura Hall, in Kagoro town, told journalists they had orders from “above” to stop the gathering, citing security implication.

Last year, some prominent politicians from the zone were picked and locked up  in Kaduna on charges of holding meetings that was inimical to peace, a charge they denied.

But, Kaduna State commissioner of information, Malam Saidu Adamu, in a telephone interview, said it was a lie that the state government stopped the seminar, saying the governor was in Markurdi yesterday and as such, could not have authorised such an action.

But Mr. Ibrahim Acos, the president of Southern Kaduna Democratic Youth Forum – organizers of the seminar – said it was a ploy by the government to gag the youth from the area from speaking against the marginalization of southern Kaduna.