Bwari deadly clash on christmas Day
By FRED ITUA
On Monday, December 25, Abuja, the nation’s capital was on fire, while the rest of the world celebrated Christmas. It was a day of rage, violence, chaos and destruction. For residents of Bwari Area Council, the sad memories of that day may last for a lifetime.
Bwari is a border town with Kaduna and Niger. It houses many national offices including the famous Abuja Law School and the national headquarters of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) .
There are two versions of what led to the violent clash. While the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Administration are in a hurry to tie it to a clash between two cult groups, the facts on ground, how-
ever, point to the contrary. Media aide to FCT Minister, Mr. Abubakar Sani, in his bid to convince those who cared to listen, told Daily Sun that a clash between two cult groups led to the fracas in Bwari. He dismissed claims that the appointment of a non-native as a traditional ruler led to the face-off.
But according to multiple people familiar with the sad development, the turbaning of a new Hausa traditional ruler known as Sarkin Bwari who is believed to be of a different lineage from the Gbagyi people that are traditionally known with the title of Esu of Bwari, was the primary cause of the clash.
According to Gwari or Gbagyi original inhabitants, protests later followed the formal appointment of Awwal Musa Ijakoro, son of the late Mohammed Musa Ijakoro as the Sarkin Bwari. The natives protested at the office of the FCT Minister, Muhammad Bello.
The natives accused Bello and other officials of the Administration of conniving to deprive the natives of their right to be the paramount rulers of the town. They alleged that the new Sarkin Bwari is not from the town, but from a community in Niger State, hence he should not have been turbanned and even elevated to a second class title from the initial third class that his late father was ‘erroneously’ turbanned.
The protesting natives provided evidence of posters to show that the newlycrowned ruler, Awwal Ijakoro, had in the recent past contested for a House of Assembly seat in Niger State to buttress the fact that he is not from FCT.
This narrative does not always go well with FCT officials who often get offended and accuse you of fanning the embers of war. For now, these are the two trending narratives.
Three people were reported to have been killed in the face-off between original inhabitants and Hausa/Fulani settlers. While one died on Sunday night, that is Christmas eve, two were confirmed dead on Christmas day. The victim who died on Sunday night was believed to be a Gwari native, whereas the identity of the other two was unknown.
An alleged earlier attack on a Gwari settlement, which left one person dead, infuriated the natives. Angered by the alleged murder, armed youths in the area mobilised and launched a counter attack on Hausa/Fulani community.
During the counter attack, it was gathered that houses and shops belonging to Hausa/Fulani settlers were set ablaze. Residents of the area who could not take cover as at when the attack was launched, reportedly sustained different degrees of injuries.
One of the eyewitnesses who spoke to Daily Sun, said the settlers also launched their own at- tack on the major shopping plaza, opposite the national headquarters of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB). The plaza which is beside a new generation bank, was set ablaze by suspected Hausa mob.
Some shops in Bwari major market, belong- ing to natives, were also set ablaze by the irate Hausa youths.
According to eyewitnesses, while the attacks lasted, security agents were reportedly not with- in the area.
While the Christmas day bloodbath was yet to abate, on Boxing day, that is December 26, a vigilance group repelled a fresh attack in the same area. According to an eyewitness, Mr. Ehimen Ihionkhan, some armed Hausa/Fulani made an attempt to launch a fresh attack in an- other neighbourhood, but were resisted by the vigilance group.
The eyewitness narrated: “I want to inform you that we still live in fear in Bwari, following Monday’s incident between Hausa and Gwari. The Army and Police are only covering the place the incident happened, while other close areas are left out. A clash happened today (De- cember 26th, 2017) in Kogo 11.
“If you call FCT Police now, they will tell you that they have sent their men, but I am telling you that there is no single police officer at Kogo 11 where I stay. The place is not too far from where the incident happened on Monday.
“Even on Monday night, it was vigilantes that fought with Hausa armed youths not to gain access to my Area. It was terrible. If those people did not intervene, they would have attacked my area.”
For now, there appears to be relative peace. Although the place still wears the semblance of a ghost town, normalcy is gradually returning. The 6pm-6am curfew imposed by the minister is yet to be lifted. There is still heavy presence of a joint security force.
The market is yet to be reopened, while the burnt plaza is still in shambles. Victims of the clash have been temporarily resettled, while relief materials have been sent by the FCT Administration to affected people.
It is too early to tell if another violence will ensue soon. Since the FCT Administration is still living in denial by refuting claims that the appointment of a new traditional ruler led to the clash, a long-term solution may not be possible for now.