By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief & Chris Ochayi
There is tension in Bwari Area Council, Abuja, over the appointment of Alhaji Awwal Musa Ijakoro as Sarkin Bwari by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Alhaji Mohammed Bello.
Ijakoro was appointed following the death of his father, Alhaji Mohammed Musa Ijakoro, on August 24.
Bwari, a predominantly Gbayi settlement with an Esu Bwari Dynasty, was said to have been founded in 1902, while Ijakoro is alleged to be from Ijakoro in Tarfa Local Government Area of Niger State.
He was appointed to succeed his father who was appointed the first Sarkin Bwari by then FCT Minister under the General Sani Abacha administration, Lt. Gen. Jeremiah Useni, an appointment the Esu palace rejected.
Bwari youths recently protested at the Three Arms Zone in the capital city and later marched to the office of the FCT Minister and the National Assembly to demand a halt to the plan to give Ijakoro a staff of office.
The Dami Dami Bwari, the Esu palace spokesman, Mr. Timothy Dakwoyi, told Sunday Vanguard that the decision to install a man from Niger State as Sarkin Bwari in the FCT was injustice.
According to Dakwoyi, it was an error on the part of Useni to appoint the late Ijakoro as the Sarkin Bwari which must be corrected in the interest of peace and security in the area.
How it started
The Dami Dami’s narrated, “When this Area Council was created in 1996, then Minister, Lt. Gen. Jeremiah Useni, from nowhere, brought a letter that the Hakimi, who was not even a chief, was to be made Second Class chief and appointed Sarkin Bwari.
“This man had come to Bwari as a young tax official. He was educated and because the villagers then were mostly illiterate, anytime the need arose, we engaged him as our interpreter.
“So we were working hand-in-hand. All of a sudden, Jeremiah Useni brought a letter that he was to be made a Second Class chief and he accepted.
“We wanted to cause trouble following the development but we did not because we are a peace-loving people. We took legal means and resorted to prayers to address the matter. Consequently, Useni decided he would give us a Third Class chief.
“Then Minister said he was going to upgrade this palace to Third Class status which he did. But we continued to agitate that the appointment of Ijakoro, a non-native, as Sarkin Bwari, was an error. Since government failed to listen to us, we believed that whenever Alh. Mohammed Musa Ijakoro passes on, the situation will be redressed since you cannot have two kings in a community.
“Ijakoro is from Niger State. It is the name of a community in Tarfa Local Government Area in the state. To confirm that fact, the son they want to make the next Sarkin Bwari contested for the House of Assembly in Niger State in 201 to represent Tarfa LGA. Alh. Awwal Musa Ijakoro is his name. He did not win the election. They are now claiming he is a Second Class chief here in Bwari.
“It was a gross error committed by government. When this man (Alh. Mohammed Musa Ijakoro) died on August 24, 2017, we insisted that there was no need for another Sarki Bwari. He died naturally and we said there was no need to replace him. Government pretended as if they were listening.
“They said they will look into our stand. It was in the process of looking into our position that, on October 30, 2017, the FCT Minister, Alh. Mohammed Musa Bello, called for a security meeting with the Chairman of Bwari Area Council, Hon. Musa Dikko, and the Esu of Bwari, Ibrahim Yaro, in Garki. It was in that meeting that he said he had appointed Alh. Awwal Musa Ijakoro to take over from his late father without due process.
“Before the Esu and the Area Council Chairman returned from their meeting with the Minister in Garki, soldiers in several trucks vehicles and an armoured tank had been deployed in Bwari. The soldiers were later joined by many policemen.
“This went until they raised the flag in that palace. As we learnt, the Minister only announced to the Esu and the Chairman that he had appointed the son of Ijakoro after the agenda of the meeting had been exhausted. He made the announcement as part of AOB (Any Other Business). That was the end of the meeting. That is what led us to this jeopardy.
“We have never caused crisis in this community but I must tell you that the government has created a security threat in Bwari. And they deployed soldiers and policemen just to intimidate us.
“Meanwhile, we have gone to court to seek an injunction to stop the installation of Musa as the Sarkin Bwari. There cannot be two kings in one community.
“In the letter appointing him, the FCT Minister said the appointment was based on the recommendations of Bwari kingmakers. Who are the Bwari kingmakers? The kingmakers of the Bwari chiefdom are with the Esu Bwari. None of them was aware of the arrangement to install Musa as Sarkin Bwari.
We have taken the case to the court and the case has been adjourned. We are pursuing the matter legally and spiritually. We are asking for justice in the court and praying to the Almighty God to redress the injustice.