Violence breaks out in Kaduna, Kano, Niger

2011-04-19
THE GUARDIAN Newspaper

THE much-touted security arrangement put in place for this year’s general election failed the nation yesterday as an orgy of political violence engulfed Kaduna, Kano, Niger States when it became apparent that President Goodluck Jonathan was coasting home to victory with the results of the presidential polls released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Amnesty International also appealed for calm in the seven northern states where violence erupted even before the final polls results were released.

Business premises, private residences and places of worship were attacked in the conflagration, leading to a number of deaths.

Some suspected fake soldiers reportedly invaded Maigero, near Narayi, a suburb of Kaduna metropolis and engaged in sporadic shooting of residents there.

In Zaria, the rampaging youths torched the family home of Vice President Namadi Sambo at the Tudun Wada area.

According to reports, hoodlums also breached the prison in Zaria. However, the prison personnel and other security agents had intensified effort to salvage the situation.

More than 10 people have been feared killed in the violence that broke out in some parts of Gombe State over the presidential election result.

Some restive youths wrecked havoc in the state capital from Saturday night till the early hours of yesterday, when they took over the major areas of the state capital.

Thick smoke from bonfires covered places like Jekadafari, Herwagana, and Nasarawa as the rampaging youths operated unhindered.

A church in Bagadaza area, a pastor’s house in Police Barrack and a few houses belonging to Christians in Kagarawal were attacked.

Their attempt to attack the Railway area, where there is a concentration of churches was reportedly foiled by the police.

The mayhem that began last Saturday night has led to the death of one policeman, who was killed yesterday morning. The house of the state PDP chairman, Mr. Jack Gumpy was set ablaze. Nine people trapped in the fire died.

Also, the house of former Minister of Education and a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader, Hajia Aisha Jibir Dukku, was attacked and several vehicles were smashed. Three buses and an INEC office were burnt along Federal College of Education (FCE) Road and INEC office in Bajoga, Funakaye Local Council.

The state Police Commissioner, Suleiman Lawal said: “The situation is under control as we have been able to keep the irate youths off the streets and normalcy is gradually returning to the town but the restriction of movement from one place to the other remains in place to check the activities of the youths.”

The post-presidential violence spilled over to Niger State yesterday as some youths believed to be Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) supporters protested in Minna, the state capital.

They burnt two churches, five vehicles, over 10 houses and other property worth hundreds of thousands of naira.

Trouble allegedly started shortly after Jega announced the final result of the election and declared President Jonathan the winner.

The hoodlums, numbering about 200 reportedly made their way to Sabon-Gari area of the capital where there is a high concentration of non-indigenes and unleashed terror on them.

The crisis lasted for over three hours before anti-riot policemen were deplored to quell the riot. Some traders of Igbo extraction were seriously wounded by the protesters.

Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu, in a state-wide broadcast, appealed to the people to remain calm as the law enforcement agents were on top of the situation.

The police yesterday confirmed the arrest of 24 protesters from different parts of Minna in connection with the riot. A combined team of solders and anti-riot policemen has taken over the streets of Minna and adjourning towns of Paiko and Maikunkele.

Meanwhile, curfew has been imposed in four major cities in Kontogora, New Bussa, Suleja, and Minna. The curfew runs from 8.00 p.m. to 7.00 a.m.

In Kano, the residence of Galadiman Kano, Alhaji Tijani Hashim, alleged to be the political godfather of Vice President Sambo, has been razed by persons suspected to be angry over the victory of Jonathan.

The arsonists, who took to the streets at 10.00 a.m. yesterday when Jonathan’s victory was certain were said to have burnt the Dorayi Palace of the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero.

Also, the Gandu Albasa home of the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Umar Na’Abba and that of Alhaji Bako Saria, were also torched. The duo is reported to be at the vanguard of the Jonathan’s re-election project.

The attack was also extended to the Bamaina Aluminium Factory reportedly owned by Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State. The firm, located in Sharada area of Kano, was burnt by the demonstrators believed to be loyalists of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the flagbearer of the CPC in the Saturday’s Presidential election.

The arsonists, who set bonfires in the major roads in the Kano metropolis, targeted the residences of dozens of PDP leaders for destruction.

The aggrieved youths, who brandished green leaves attempted to burn the Hadeija Road residence of an elder statesman, Malam Tanko Yakasai but failed.

Even residents, mainly of other ethnic extractions in Badawa, Kawaji, Naibawa and Kurna were not spared as scores of their places of worship and homes were set on fire.

Unconfirmed reports say no fewer than two persons had been killed at the Eldorado area, adjacent the Army Brigade Quarters.

As in Niger, an indefinite curfew has been imposed on the Kano metropolis.

There were fears that many more lives may have been lost in the crisis.

In spite of the deployment of armed security personnel to volatile parts of the metropolis, thousands of residents of southern extraction have been forced to relocate to safer environments like the Police, Army and Air Force barracks located within the metropolis.

Kano Police Commissioner, Dan-Azumi Doma, said the curfew would last till peace is restored in the state.

Also, tension mounted in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) yesterday as the final results of last Saturday’s election showed that Jonathan won the race convincingly.

The popular Wuse Market was hurriedly closed as the Senate President David Mark charged security agencies to go after the perpetrators of the violence that trailed the President’s victory.

Also, well armed mobile policemen and soldiers yesterday took over the streets of Jalingo, the capital of Taraba State following a massive protest embarked upon by supporters of the CPC over the presidential election results, which gave victory to the PDP in the state.

The protest has grounded the state capital as shop owners and businesses shut their doors.

The roads leading to the Central Market, Ministry of Work, Barde as well as Hamaruwa were taken over by the Jalingo protesters who chanted the praises of Buhari, in defiance of the fierce-looking armed security personnel.

Speaking with The Guardian, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Mayaki Marinda, said the police were in control of the situation.

Although Marinda denied knowledge of any casualty in the protest, The Guardian learnt that two people who fell off a motorcycle were crushed to death by a vehicle during the protest.

Following these developments, the Zamfara State joint elections security teams have beefed up security in the state with a view to keeping the peace in the state.

The Guardian saw troops of policemen patrolling round Gusau, the state capital. However, business activities went on as usual in the state.

But a post-presidential election protest was nipped in the bud yesterday in Plateau State by security personnel who repelled restive youths surging to the centre of Jos City from Bauchi Road and Masalacin Jumat areas of the state capital.



Media Officer, Special Task Force (STF), Capt. Charles Ekeocha, said the youths told him that they were protesting over the election results that were unclear to them.

Ekeocha added that the youths did not specify which election results were in dispute or the candidate on whose behalf they were protesting. He added that the situation had been brought under control.

The violence started on Sunday night in Kaduna, the capital city of Kaduna State and spread to Zaria yesterday morning.

Several people were reportedly killed while property worth billions of naira, including churches and mosques, were set on fire within the two cities.

Houses belonging to PDP chieftains in Hayanbanki and Tudun Wada were set ablaze by irate youths. One of the houses burnt in Tudun Wada belonged to the PDP senatorial candidate in Kaduna Central Zone and former PTDF Executive Director, Yusuf Abubakar Mairago. Mairago lost his bid for the Senate in the April 9, 2011 election to the National Assembly.

The INEC headquarters in Kaduna was also set ablaze yesterday.

However, the Kaduna State government has imposed a 24-hour curfew on the state and all security agencies, including the military have been ordered to enforce it.

Governor Patrick Yakowa, in a live broadcast to the people of the state, announced the imposition of the curfew on the entire state.

He appealed “to the good people of Kaduna State to remain law-abiding, calm and stay at home until normalcy returns.”

In Zaria, several people were reportedly killed in the crisis that engulfed the town while a Baptist Church in the city was also burnt down by a mob allegedly formed by CPC sympathisers.

In Kaduna metropolis, alleged CPC supporters took to the streets around 11.30p.m. on Sunday in Angwar Muazu, Kabala West, Rigasa, Kawo and Tundun Wada burning tyres and attacking perceived political opponents.

Witnesses said policemen guarding a branch of the GTB bank located along the Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway Bye Pass, Kabala West were attacked and seriously injured by the rampaging youths.

An official of the bank who pleaded anonymity said two of the policemen were currently receiving treatment in a hospital.

A refugee situation built up yesterday as non-indigenes resident in Kaduna metropolis and Zaria fled to police stations and military barracks for safety.

Commercial activities have also grounded to halt in the two cities. Many students writing the ongoing Senior Secondary School Certificate examinations in the state could not get to the centres located in the troubled areas.

The timely intervention of security agencies, however, saved the situation and brought it under control.

Army and police personnel were seen mounting checkpoints along major roads and streets within the two cities as well as those linking the state capital with neighbouring states to control the situation.

Kaduna State Deputy Police Commissioner, Ekeh Nwadibo, confirmed that the situation was under control, saying: “We are on top of the situation.’’

Nwadibo said although the police had made some arrests, he could not provide the number of those in custody over the unrest.

Disturbed by reports of violence in some parts of the country, Senate President Mark urged security formations to mobilise for action and halt the mayhem.

In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Paul Mumeh in Abuja yesterday, Mark said Nigerians should not be compelled to vote for any person but should be allowed to express their free choice.

During a visit to Governor Yakowa at Government House, Kaduna as part of his assessment tour, Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Operations, Audu Abubakar, described the violence as “unfortunate” and assured that security agencies were on top of the situation.

Also, the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has canvassed peaceful resolution of all disputes arising from the presidential elections, rather than a resort to self-help.

Chairman, IPAC, Emmanuel Okereke, at a media briefing in Abuja yesterday, stressed that since the elections have been adjudged free and fair, aggrieved parties should resort to legal means in addressing any complaints.

And, Special Adviser to Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State on Political Affairs, Suleiman Yusuf, yesterday condemned the violence in some parts of the north.

Yusuf, speaking with The Guardian in Ilorin, urged the protesters to do a re-think.

He added: “I am sure the protesters must have been misinformed. When you ask two or three members of this group of persons you may be surprised that they may not even know the reason for their protest.”

Spokesman of the Kwara Police Command, Ezekiel Dabo, disclosed that the police have put “adequate security measures” in place to keep the peace in the state.

Dabo told The Guardian: “We are aware of what is happening in Kaduna and we have put our men on red alert.”

 

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