By Suzan Edeh, Bauchi
Hell was let loose again weekend following a fresh fracas that erupted in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State. For a long time, Tafawa Balewa has, for a long time, been frequently embroiled in crisis. This latest clash resulted in the killing of four persons and several others injured, in addition to properties destroyed.
Vanguard Metro gathered that the crisis started when some youths in the area, who were engaged in a game of snooker disagreed amongst themselves. A heated argument had ensued and soon culminated into a bloody fight.
The police on being alert about the incident immediately sprang into action and later succeeded in restoring calm in the area.
Unfortunately, things were to take an ugly turn the following day when aggrieved members of one of the warring groups which felt cheated in the way the situation had been handled, decided to seek vengeance by unleashing terror in the area that very day.
An eye witness who did not disclose his identity to our correspondence said: “Pandemonium erupted in the early hours of the morning, when some youths in the area started shouting and chanting songs that underlined the fact that danger was lurking around the corner.
All of a sudden, they started fighting amongst themselves, using dangerous weapons like knives, axes and cutlasses, which they used to inflict injuries on themselves. It seemed they were intoxicated with something, because they fought with a lot of viciousness. In the course of the fracas, they burnt down houses, shops, market places and other valuable properties.
They terrorized innocent residents of the area, killed four persons that very day and injured several others”.
Another source who claimed to have witnessed the whole incident, said that the youths in the area, for a long time, have been known to be aggressive and violent. Narrating how the crisis started, he said: “I was in my house, when around 6.a.m, to be precise, I started hearing noise from all directions. I decided to come out to see things for myself.
When I saw people scampering for safety, I also had to run for my life. People’s houses, shops and properties were being razed down by fire”.
He lamented the death of a close relative who was killed in the violence and the properties of a close friend that were destroyed by the inferno.
Confirming the incident to newsmen in his office, the Commissioner of Police Mohammed Indabawa said that the crisis started in Tafawa Balewa local government on Wednesday evening when two youths who were playing a snooker game had a misunderstanding with each other.
He disclosed that the situation was put under control same day but: “This morning some unidentified youths went to the market and set the venue of the snookers game ablaze. But a team of police men was deployed to the area and the situation is now under control”.
The Commissioner of police said that the unit commander was able to find only two dead bodies of the killed persons, adding that: “As I am talking now we are going to the scene of the crisis with the GOC 83 division Jos, Plateau State, Major Gen Sunday Idoko, to ascertain the true situation there”.
Subsequently, the Police Command claims to have arrested 18 suspects with various dangerous weapons in connection with the crisis which reportedly claimed four lives, while many houses, including places of worship were razed down.
Parading the suspects at the State Police Command Headquarters in Bauchi Friday, the Police Commissioner, Mohammed Abdulkadir Indabawa revealed that searches were still going on to arrest other persons involved in the crisis, adding that nobody, no matter his or her status, would be spared but dealt with in accordance with the laws of the land.
The Police boss who was in the company of the Brigade Commander, 33 Field Artillery Brigade as well as that Director of the SSS assured that enough security personnel, including armed soldiers, have been deployed to the troubled area to maintain peace and order just as he said that the situation was gradually returning to normal.
He stressed that “what we saw was not a religious crisis as it was sparked off by a disagreement between youths who were playing snooker and table tennis games”.
Worried by constant threat to peaceful coexistence in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State, the state governor, Malam Isa Yuguda, has summoned religious leaders to a dialogue in a bid to find a lasting solution to the crisis.
Addressing religious leaders in the state over the recent disturbance in Tafawa Balewa, Governor Yuguda said: “If it means relocating residents of Tafawa Balewa to other areas to achieve peace, my administration is prepared to do that.
We cannot continue like this. It is always happening in Tafawa Balewa and so far no one is ready to claim responsibility. This shall be the last and I shall deal decisively with any one or group caught to be behind the recent disturbance”.
Governor Yuguda further appealed to the religious leaders to always preach the gospel of peaceful coexistence, saying: “Islam and Christianity are religions of peace. It is always the desire of hoodlums to hide under the protective cover of religion to unleash mayhem on innocent people. I promised to act decisively to restore peace in the troubled area.
This shall be the last disturbance anywhere in Bauchi State. I shall not tolerate any disturbance anymore”.
Briefing newsmen at the end of the meeting with religious leaders, the Chief Imam of Bauchi, Alhaji Bala Ahmed and Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Bauchi State Chapter, Reverend Musa Tula, advised government to always punish the perpetrators of the crisis in order to serve as deterrent to others.
They said the crisis in Tafawa was ethnic as a result of poverty but given religious colorations by the perpetrators in order to achieve their selfish aim. They advised people to live in peace with one another since no religion preaches violence.