Deji Elumoye in Abuja and Segun Awofadeji in Gombe
President Muhammadu Buhari has flayed the recent violence associated with the Billiri chieftaincy tussle in Gombe State and has therefore called for caution for the crisis not to escalate.
This is coming as Gombe State Governor, Mr. Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, has suspended all proceedings leading to the selection of a new traditional ruler of Tangale chiefdom until peace is fully restored in the area council.
The President, in a statement issued yesterday by his Media Assistant, Malam Garba Shehu, expressed “great shock and deep concern” over the eruption of violence in Gombe State in the wake of the Billiri chieftaincy tussle.
Reacting to the development, Buhari said: “I’m seriously disturbed by the outbreak of violence in Gombe State and call on the parties involved to exercise maximum restraint to avoid escalation.”
According to him, “the easy resort to violence is uncalled for because there are enough avenues to resolve differences amicably without threatening law and order.”
He noted that “in a circle of violence, there are no winners, except losers,” advising Muslims and Christians to “avoid the temptation of resorting to violence in order to express their grievances.”
“Nigerians have shed enough blood over issues that could have been peacefully resolved. I appeal to the two parties to sheathe their swords for the sake of peaceful coexistence. Gombe has enjoyed relative religious harmony for decades and you shouldn’t allow hoodlums destroy this positive record”.
The state government had imposed a 24-hour curfew with immediate effect in Billiri Local Government Area (BLGA) of the state following the eruption of the violence in the area.
The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Professor Abubakar Njodi, who declared the curfew, said that the curfew was meant to contain the violence which erupted in the area and protect lives and property of the citizenry.
Yahaya announced the suspension of all proceedings leading to the selection of a new traditional ruler of Tangale chiefdom in a statewide broadcast on Saturday night shortly after returning from Billiri where he went to ascertain the extent of damages caused by the violence.
He also extended his condolences and sympathies to the families of those who lost their lives or property in the unfortunate incident and enjoined traditional, religious and opinion leaders to prevail on their people to remain calm, peaceful and law abiding.
The governor assured the people he would do everything within his powers to protect lives and property of the citizenry.
Yahaya recalled that following the demise of His Royal Highness, Abdu Buba Maisheru II, and in line with established laws and traditions, his administration had set in motion the process for the selection of a new Mai.
The process, he said, was transparent and devoid of any interference, leading to the forwarding of three recommended candidates by the Tangale traditional kingmakers, from among whom his administration would select a candidate to fill the vacant stool of Mai Tangale as the law provided.