At least three lives were lost and one policeman injured in a violence that erupted on Friday night over the appointment of new Mai Tangale of Billiri in Billiri Local Government area of Gombe State.
This is even as Governor Inuwa Yahaya vowed to make sure that the law takes its course over the incident.
The Governor in a state broadcast while extending his condolences and sympathies to the families of all those who lost their lives or properties in the incident, announced the suspension of further action on the appointment of new Mai Tangale.
Yahaya promised to do everything within his powers to protect the lives and property of the innocent citizens saying “we are a people known for our cherished peace and stability. Violence, sectarianism and extremism have no place in our culture and tradition. Those conflict merchants who seek to profit from this violence by setting brothers upon brothers, families upon families, and communities upon communities, will soon be made to face the full wrath of the law.”
He said he approached the Mai Tangale succession process with high sense of responsibility because, as part of Gombe State’s cultural tradition, any decision he takes will have far reaching implication on not only the Tangale chiefdom but the entire Gombe State.
“That’s why I undertook widespread consultations, conducted background checks and engaged in personal reflection in order to arrive at a decision that is in the best interest of the people and the state. Let it be clear that it is within my powers as governor to appoint any of the three recommended candidates to become the new Mai Tangle. Let it also be clear that no official pronouncement was made about any candidate before, during and after the eruption of violence in Billiri Local Government Area.
“The violence was orchestrated by some unpatriotic individuals who thought they could blackmail the government into announcing their preferred candidate. Let me make it clear that our administration will never cow into any blackmail, threat, intimidation or witch-hunt from any individual or group no matter how highly placed,” he said.
According to the Governor, “the violence in Billiri LGA has left us with no option than to declare a 24-hour curfew to further stem the spread of violence, loss of lives and destruction of property.
“To this end, Government is withholding any decision on the new Mai Tangale until normalcy returns to the affected communities. I have noted with dismay the dangerous campaign of incitement and polarization waged by some unscrupulous elements on social media. Government will vigorously discharge its role of protecting innocent citizens and combating criminality and violence anywhere in Gombe State.”
Yahaya who was at Billiri earlier in the day for on the spot assessment of the situation described the action of the protesters as uncivilized adding that arrests have been made and more arrests will still be made over the incident.
He added; “I am saddened by the incident and what I saw is not an action of a civilised people. The destruction is too much, as you can see a lot of houses, shops and markets were destroyed and lives have also been lost.
“So it’s really a very serious setback and a sad development. What I saw on ground is what everybody saw, if these people are peaceful they shouldn’t have resulted to violence.”
The Governor who was in Abuja when the incident happened arrived on Saturday and drove straight from the Airport to Billiri to assess the situation.
Yahaya, looking visibly angry, vowed to ensure that all those involved in the crisis are brought to book.
The state Commissioner of police, Maikudi Shehu confirmed that three people have been killed in the incident and one of his men injured.
Driving through Billiri community in company of his Deputy, Dr. Mannasa Jatau, the Governor was shocked at the extent of damage to market stalls, private businesses and others.
But in a swift reaction, a group under the aegies of Tangale Community Overseas has urged Governor Yahaya Inuwa of Gombe State to approve the newly elected Mai Tangale.
In a statement signed by its General Secretary, Lamela Umaru Lakorok, the group said it’s not the Governor’s responsibility to appoint a Chief for the Tangale people as contained in the Gombe State Law on Traditional council.