By Luka Binniyat & Mayen Etim
Campaigners for President Jonathan Goodluck ahead of 2015 elections, yesterday, escaped being lynched when hoodlums among the estimated 30,000 youths attending the Northern Youth Summit in Kaduna suddenly turned violent and went for the organisers of the event, while policemen on ground looked the other way.
The Murtala Square venue of the summit, which was thronged by the youthful men and women, said to come from mainly far northern states, was alive when the occasion kicked off around 11am. But it turned out that most of them had little idea why they were there.
The coordinator of the summit, also the Chairman, Northern Youth Forum (NYF), Jibrin Tafida, mounted the rostrum, surrounded by other states coordinators, soon launched into oration on what the real North should be like and how their forebears were exploited by past northern leaders.
The initial applause he got reduced to murmuring. Coordinators from Kano, Jigawa and Kebbi, who spoke in the same tone, did so in an atmosphere of arguments in the crowd.
Suddenly, a crowd of ill-clad youths was formed which started asking in loud voices that they heard what President Goodluck gave the organizers on their behalf, since Tafida had claimed so much closeness to Nigeria’s number one citizen.
Others claimed that the organizers had collected money to induce a fight among the youth during the sharing of the booty, so “they could use the blood that would be shed in the free mason fetish”.
Soon, the unruly youth started throwing stones and other objects at the rostrum as they shouted, “Give us our share of the loot” and, “free mason, you will not taste our blood. You will instead shed your blood”.
Some of the youths drew daggers and charged at the organizers. But it would seem that the pro-Jonathan group had envisioned such a scene, because their private security guards sprang from nowhere, but unarmed and stood to the attackers, who relaxed the aggression. The anti-Jonathan mob seemed to be adding in numbers, as sticks, clubs and stones flew towards the direction of the rostrum.
While thousands scampered for safety, a vehicle forced its way into the place where Tafida and his three main officials were protected by a ring of supporters and body guards. At this point.
While the drama played out, the hundreds of policemen around the venue kept a safe distance.
Tafida and his men boarded the vehicle and were driven into safety.
The summit lasted about 35 minutes.