For years, Kano has successfully managed its strong inter-ethnic divides and differences. But by the dawn of the week, it was evident that the host and its non- indigenous communities were heading for a fresh trouble.
With the #EndSARS protesters, gearing up, and security agencies being unable to halt them from taking to the streets, it was obvious something tragic was in the making. The first day of the protest was uneventful.
The youths kicked off the protest at Sarkin-Yaki by Court Road junction inside Sabon–Garri. They stayed true to their purpose and boundary and the people hailed and listened to their grievances against the system and against the SARS unit of the Nigeria Police.
Two things remarkably stood out about the protest on this day. The police and the other security agencies shadowed them from afar and the youths, who were largely none–indigenes, held their protest in the mid of their people in Sabon–Garri.
However, the agitators took the protest to the Airport Road and its community also largely populated by none-indigenes, marching on the borderline between Sabon–Garri and Brigade Quarters, an area predominated by Hausa and Muslims. By mid–day, the unexpected happened.
About two vans of armed thugs invaded the protest and dispersed the youths, in the process injuring some of them with knives and other weapons. From this point, it became a matter of tip-for-tap. The protesting youths retreated to their base at Sarkin–Yaki Junction, where some petty Hausa, unskilled workers were doing their businesses and attacked them in revenge.
By this time, another round of bitter confrontation had ensued along Airport Road by A.A Rano Junction, moving towards St. Lious and St. Thomas Primary schools, where parents were about to pick their children. Cars and property belonging to St. Thomas Primary School were vandalised.
Inside the city, news of the clashes spread like wild fire. Pandemonium broke. People at their places of work ran for safety. But not all was lucky. Many cars were vandalised as they made their way home, the same for tri-cycles, several of which were set ablaze.
Properties were looted by the rioters. Two of them stood out. While the Hausa youths from Brigade Quarters moved through Hausa Road by Igbo Road to set Summit Hotel ablaze, the none– indigenous youths in retaliation, moved to Galaxy Mall owned by a Hausa man, and looted the place.
Perhaps, the worst came on the night of the trouble. With the police refusing to get deeply involved in the management of the confrontation, Sabon–Garri became another sad story for its residents. First was the wild rumours that the area was to be attacked by the rival youths by mid-night as a result of which, youths in the area, were invited to defend their area.
On account of this, scores of youths, armed with sticks, clubs and knives were mobilised to keep vigil over their streets. Bonfires were made at different junctions and blazes of fire, in the absence of electricity supply, illuminated the dark, horrific night.
Innocent passers-by resident in Sabon-Garri were harassed as they made their way home. Those trapped inside the area could not go out because of the youths, some of whom were nothing but criminals. And as the night got colder and neighbours finally went to sleep, phones of trapped persons were snatched at will and different amounts of money were stolen from them.
In all, unconfirmed reports held that two people died of the violent confrontation in Kano. But Commissioner of Police, Habu Sani, said five people sustained injuries from the clash. Daily Sun witnessed an injured lady being rushed to a medical facility and an unidentified young man rushed, half-dead, to a private hospital on Aitken Road, but was rejected.
He said they arrested a medical doctor for using firearms during the clash, adding that he was being investigated. He admitted that the protesters sought and were given approval to protest within Sabon-Gari: “Some groups within Sabon- Gari actually came to us and said they wanted to engage in peaceful protest.
“We asked them what their grievances were and urged them to write them down and channel them to government. We even called a security meeting with their leaders in attendance, including all the tribal chiefs from Igbo, Yoruba, Edo-Delta, including religious leaders from Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Council of Ulamas.
“We told them that we have security reports that something bad might happen. Today, instead of the protesters to remain in one place, they started moving around. As they moved towards Airport Road, they met another group and clashed, some of them were wounded.
“Not a single place of worship was burnt contrary to speculations. Seven vehicles were burnt eight others were damaged. Galaxy Mall along Igbo Road was vandalized. Summit Lodge along Hausa Road by Igbo Road was vandalised.
“We have invited all youth leaders and community leaders. We have discussed with them and they have promised to go back and talk to their people. I can assure you that the situation has been brought under control.”
Meanwhile, military personnel were deployed to the streets. They were stationed on Niger, New, Ballat-Hughes and Sarkin-Yaki roads all in Sabon-Gari. Their vehicles were spotted patrolling the flashpoints where the trouble exploded.
While the military patrolled, anti-riot police officers cordoned off roads leading to the flashpoints, barring motorists from making use of areas considered flashpoints. The situation is gradually returning to normal. Many believed that the trouble would not have happened if those elites, who hired thugs to disperse the #EndSARS protesters had thought of the implications.