Sectarian crises yesterday rocked Plateau and Bauchi states, claiming over 24 lives.
In Gombe State, security reports last night indicated that there was palpable political tension over the arrest of a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Robinson Wasa, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). A source alleged that the arrest was engineered by Senator Ajuji Waziri, husband of Farida Waziri, the executive chairman of the anti-graft agency.
Some thugs suspected to be nomads had invaded four Berom villages in Barkin Ladi Local Government of Plateau State, killing 14 people in what a security expert described as coordinated attacks.
A military task force official said some persons had been arrested. Among those arrested by the special task force was a mobile police officer serving in Abuja.
However, the special task force confirmed that two of the fleeing nomads were killed in an exchange of gun fire with soldiers.
Captain Charles Okeocha, the spokesperson of the task force, told newsmen that some of the weapons seized included an AK 47 rifle and a pistol found in a place of worship in Dorowar Babuje, as well as the arrested police man who had in his possession four live cartridges and a sickle, a box of matches and catapult.
According to him, the mobile police man whose particulars were given as "F.No.220015" bears the name Corporal Mohammed Uba of 44 police mobile force, Abuja.
Capt. Ekeocha further said the STF had received a distress call around 1am early yesterday and sector seven of the team which oversaw the area, went into action by pursuing the fleeing Fulani nomads on top of the Dorowa Hill, where gun battle ensued.
He pointed out that two fleeing nomads were gunned down, while one soldier was shot in the leg and another nomad was wounded; both are receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital in the state.
STF commended the youths in the area for their cooperation and the women for the support which led to the arrest of the attackers in the area, adding that they would be handed over to the police for proper investigation.
LEADERSHIP gathered from eyewitnesses that apart from Dorowar Babuje, three other villages were attacked in the same locality and a number of deaths were recorded in those attacks.
The villages included Nding Susut, which recorded two deaths, Nding Jok, one and Fan Loh, three with Dorowa recording eight as against the task force figure's of two.
Worried by the cycle of violence, Human Rights Watch has appealed to the federal government to "act swiftly to protect civilians of all ethnicities at risk of further attacks or reprisal killings."
It also urged the government to allow Francis Deng, the United Nations secretary-general's special adviser on the prevention of genocide, to visit Plateau State.
"This terrible cycle of violence and impunity has to stop," a press statement signed by Corinne Dufka said.
Bauchi State governor, Malam Isa Yuguda, had yesterday summoned religious leaders in the state over fresh crisis that erupted in Tafawa Balewa local government in the state. The state commissioner of police, Muhammad Indabawa, confirmed that at least four persons were killed while a few others sustained injuries during the crisis. But eyewitnesses said over 10 persons were killed.
The commissioner of police said that the unit commander was able to find only two corpses. "As I am talking to you now, we are going to the scene of the crisis with the GOC 83 division, Jos, Plateau State, Major Gen. Sunday Idoko, to ascertain the situation".
The commissioner said the problem started in the area on Wednesday evening when two youths who were playing snooker had a misunderstanding, a situation which led to this unfortunate situation, adding that the situation was brought under control. He said that yesterday morning some unidentified youths went on rampage to the market and set the place of the snooker ablaze, but that policemen had been deployed to the area and the situation is under control.
Governor Yuguda appealed to religious leaders to always preach the gospel of peaceful coexistence, saying, "Islam and Christianity are religions of peace. This shall be the last disturbance anywhere in Bauchi State. I shall not tolerate any disturbance anymore", he said.
In Gombe State, security agencies were put on the red alert last night over what a security source described as "build-up of political tension", caused by the arrest of Mr. Robison Wasa by the EFCC yesterday.
Wasa, who was picked by the EFCC at about 2pm, is the executive chairman of Billiri Local Government Area, in the state. He was said to have frustrated the recent bid by Senator Ajuji Waziri to return to the Senate in the April general elections.
An insider in the unfolding political saga accused Senator Waziri of engineering the arrest of Mr. Wasa as a "pay-back option".
The source added: "The PDP stakeholders, including Governor Danjuma Goje, are to meet tonight (Thursday) to ratify Mr. Robinson Wasa as running mate to the PDP governorship candidate of Gombe State Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo. Senator Waziri got to know about it and immediately directed his wife to arrest him.
"It is very unfortunate that Farida Waziri could allow her husband to use her to fight a political cause. It is only in this country that this kind of a thing happens."
The source, who did not want his name mentioned in the print, said Mr. Wasa's refusal to work for Senator Waziri, who comes from the area, was based on the gentleman's agreement by the party in the senatorial district.
According to him, "Senator Waziri was elected as a senator via bye-election; we agreed that he would only serve out the tenure of his late predecessor, but Waziri failed to keep that agreement when he insisted recently in contesting the primaries."
In a swift reaction, the spokesman of the EFCC, Mr. Femi Babafemi, refuted the allegation of political persecution of the chairman.
In a text message sent to LEADERSHIP last night, Babafemi said Wasa was arrested in connection to a case of forgery and money laundering "for which he has been under investigation for over a year and has been reporting every week to our office in Gombe."
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