Gombe Govt, CAN Call for Calm as Tension Rises over Killing of 9 Christian Youth

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From Segun Awofadeji in Gombe

No fewer than eleven persons including a policeman and NSCDC officer were confirmed dead after a car driven by the NSCDC officer rammed into a procession of Christian youth (mostly Boys Brigade members) who were on Easter procession Sunday night in Gombe town.

The dead include nine Boys Brigade (BB) members.

The leadership of the Christian Association (CAN) in the Northeast has appealed to Christians in Gombe state to remain calm. .

THISDAY checks revealed that the youth were on their usual Easter rally in celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave when the unidentified NSCDC and his Police friend came across them during the procession at Alheri Junction, Biu Road, Gombe.

The Gombe State Deputy Governor, Charles Iliya, who was accompanied by the state CAN Chairman, Reverend Ibrahim Joda, as well as the Northeast CAN chairman, Reverend Abare Kalla, also appealed for calm as he assured that government will get to the root of the unfortunate incident.

Addressing parents and other mourners who thronged the Gombe state Specialist Hospital where the dead were deposited at the mortuary and the injured receiving treatment, the Gombe State Deputy Governor, Mr. Charles Iliya, also said the State Government will foot the hospital bills of all victims receiving treatment.

The Deputy Governor who spoke amidst boos and jeers from angry youths said he was pained too and that Government was not behind the unfortunate incident, stressing that “we have spoken to the security authorities and they have assured us that action will be taken”.

Earlier, while going round with the Deputy Governor, the Gombe state CAN Chairman, Reverend Ibrahim Joda, appealed for calm among the Christian faithful and described the incident as a very sad moment for Christians in this period of Easter when they were supposed to be celebrating the resurrection of the risen Lord. He also offered prayers for healing of the injured and for the repose of the souls of those that died.

Also speaking in an interview with newsmen, the Northeast Chairman of CAN, Reverend Abare Kalla, said though it was painful, he said calm and caution must be the watchword now.

According to him, “we must be calm now to avoid the breach of peace and then pursue justice thereafter”.

Apprehension and palpable tension had engulfed the Gombe State capital Monday morning when news broke on the killing of eleven Boys Brigade (BB) members by an NSCDC officer and his police friend Sunday night when the youths were observing their usual Easter procession.

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the officers, after exchanging words with the youths during the procession, used a different lane to oveetake them, only to turn back with the headlight of the vehicle switched off and deliberately rammed into the youths from behind killing eight persons on the spot. The youths in turn, chased the security officers who were not on duty, apprehended and killed the duo.

Bello Makwashi, the Gombe State Police Commissioner, while reacting to the incident on phone, confirmed the incident and said nine persons died. He however denied that the other man in the car was a police officer but said investigation was ongoing.