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Selection Of New Mai Tangale Turns Violent As Gombe Govt Imposes 24-Hour Curfew

Gombe State Government has imposed a 24-hour indefinite curfew within Billiri Local Government Area with immediate effect from Friday, 19th February 2021.

The development is following the current eruption of violence in Billiri Town, which has degenerated into a security threat to both lives and property.

According to a press statement signed by the Secretary to Gombe State Government (SSG), Prof Ibrahim Njodi Abubakar, The government affirmed the need for peaceful co-existence among the citizenry and commitment to the protection of lives and properties. Consequently, the government has suspended all forms of gatherings in Billiri Local Government Area.

The statement directed all security agencies to ensure strict compliance with the curfew directive while all citizens are expected to comply with the directive except personnel providing essential services.

It will be recalled that Gombe State Government had assured that it is making far-reaching consultations with relevant stakeholders on who becomes the next Mai Tangale amongst the top three contenders presented by the Kingmakers.

The disclosure was made by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Professor Ibrahim Abubakar Njodi while addressing newsmen shortly after a stakeholders meeting held at the Deputy Governor’s office.

He said that the journey to the throne of Mai Tangale began when a total of 23 persons expressed interest in the position but through screening and some other important considerations in the selection process, the number was trimmed to 18 and eventually 3 candidates.

Those 3 candidates he further explained, secured votes from the Kingmakers to emerge and are now equals in the eyes of the law irrespective of the number of votes they scored.

Professor Njodi said that the names of the top 3 contestants who scored votes in the contest have since been forwarded to the State Governor, explaining that the “number of votes by kingmakers are not the determinants of who becomes an Emir or Chief, rather their votes only determine who makes the top 3 nominees to be recommended to the Governor and nothing else.”

The SSG added, “You all know that the 2020 laws of Gombe State as amended gives the Governor the prerogative to select one from the top 3 candidates.”

On 25th January 2021, the Governor of Gombe State assented to the Gombe State Chieftaincy Law, 2020. The relevant provision of the law as to the appointment of an Emir or Chief is that the Council of Traditional Kingmakers of an Emirate or a Chiefdom shall nominate to the Governor three candidates for the vacant stool from among eligible members of the Royal Family.

The Governor after due deliberation will then choose one of the candidates for appointment as an Emir or Chief.

The appointment of an Emir or Chief is, therefore, the prerogative of the Governor.

Ibrahim Njodi explained that “So the Governor alongside stakeholders are still making consultations to come up with what is good for the people.”

He also said that the seat of the Mai Tangale is such an important one that needs careful consultation and background checks to arrive at who sits on it.

He added that “Any sentiment or distrust in the process is uncalled for, because the three names submitted to the governor are bonafide sons, and all of them belong to the same lineage.”

While appealing for calm, Professor Ibrahim Abubakar Njodi said the Government can only function and meet the yearnings and aspirations of the people in an atmosphere of peace.

The Community position

The selection among the potential rulers was suspended three times and in the fourth time, Dr. Maiyamba still won.

“The two other contestants got two votes each while Maiyamba had five votes when the kingmakers cast their votes. For many days after the election, no reason was given by the Governor of Gombe State as regards why the State Government refused to give Maiyamba his appointment letter.

“What we hear is that the Governor doesn’t like him and prefers a Muslim candidate. For people that travelled by road from Yola, Adamawa State, to Gombe, there was no movement on the Federal road as women were seen protesting peacefully. The Kaltungo, Shongom, and Billiri areas are presently tensed,” the source said.

“We are all northerners with the freedom to be treated as equals. What gives us peace and unity is equal justice. We need peace and justice.

“People who know Dr Musa Idris Maiyamba know that he doesn’t deserve this. Governor Yahaya should not deny Northern Nigeria the kind of good leaders we deserve in the name of perceived sentiments. Dr Musa is a medical doctor, a born prince, peaceful, respectful, and accommodating.

“We call on all people of truth, love, and justice to call on the governor to respect the wishes and decisions of the Tangale people. He should not allow the fragile north to continue to disunite based on our differences. Rather, he should obey the principles of justice,” another leader in the community said.

The residents and indigenes have several times insisted on the choice of Dr. Maiyamba, a position the State Government isn’t very comfortable with.

There has been widespread protests in Shongom, and Billiri areas of Gombe State, after the newly selected ruler, Mai Tangale, Dr Musa Maiyamba, was not given his appointment letter and sworn in by the State Government.

The vacant stool was occasioned by the death of Dr. Abdu Buba Mausharu, the 15th Mai Tangale and only Christian monarch in the North-East, last month.

The Tangale are predominantly Christian with a small percentage of Islam and traditional religion as well.

The Gombe State Government was also petitioned in November last year, after the most Senior Judge, Justice Beatrice Iliya was excluded from the Chief Judge Nominees List, for being Christian; an act that drew widespread condemnation.

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