Stakeholders call for end of Gombe communal clashes

Rebecca Muázu, Gombe

Authorities and stakeholders in Gombe are calling for a long lasting solution to the recurring communal clashes between three local Government areas of Billiri, Kaltungo and Shongom.

A tribal organization of Gombe South, the Tangale Renaissance Group, is one of the groups calling urgent steps, such as setting up of an administrative panel of inquiry to thoroughly investigate the remote and immediate causes of the recurring clashes in the Tangale communities.

The group, made up of representatives from all the clashing communities, expressed their views in Gombe, after an emergency meeting, following recent clashes in the Tangale speaking communities.

It is calling on community leaders to as a matter of urgency call their subjects to order, while urging political leaders, elites, and all stakeholders to speak out against this mayhem.

One of the members of the group, Ms. Mole Istifanus Benet, who read the decisions of the meeting, said the Tangale Renaissance Group condemned in the strongest terms, the act of wanton killings and destruction of properties, which have turned out to be a persistent carnage.

She said “We frown at the acts of the perpetrators and the inability and silence of our community/traditional leaders to timely intervene and act promptly in curtailing this dastardly act of blood feud.

We also condemn in strongest terms the silence and passive attitudes of our political leaders, elites and all stakeholders toward this barbaric acts. We equally expressed our dissatisfaction toward the actions and inactions of the government in responding and finding cause to the immediate and remote causes of the lingering communal crisis.

In the same vein, we frown at the attitudes of some of our religious leaders for their inability to timely act while paying lip service to the crisis. The group, in conclusion, recommended that. We strongly call upon Gombe State government to as a matter of urgency set up an administrative panel of inquiry to thoroughly investigate the remote and immediate cause/causes of the crisis/clashes with a view to finding a permanent solution to this unfortunate bloodshed.

The perpetrators of this dastardly act should as a matter of urgency be apprehended and brought to book irrespective of their ethnic, religious, political and social status to serve as a deterrent to others.”

The clashes within the Tangale communities, people who speak the same language and history, are said to be more than 20 years old.

Each year since the first, at the commencement of the farming season, such cases are recorded, where newly sprouting plants are uprooted, while the farmers are attacked and their properties are destroyed.

This year, the incidents happened again for three days from June 23 to 25, which resulted the destruction of farms and other property, as well as the killing of a Police officer, who was among the other police personnel who went out to bring peace to the area.

As to what the Tangale Renaissance Group is doing to bring a lasting solution to the recurring clashes, the General Secretary of the Tangale Renaissance Group, Mr. Ahmed Magem, said it was working on both short and long term plans to bring about the desired lasting solution to the ugly trend.

“We have decided to look within ourselves to bring the solution, instead of looking outside. So if we are able to proffer solutions from within, that means it is much, much easier for us, as brothers, as a kit and kin to be able to find a lasting solution to within us. Because Billiri, Shongom and Kaltungo are actually one blood, one DNA and one people with same ancestry, history and definitely same destiny. And again, there is so much intermarriage between even the three communities.

Now, it is not only that, the Renaissance is also looking into the socio-economic development of its own people, to see that whatever is going on is not only on the cosmetic or on the periphery of what is going on, but find a total solution to wholly, so that it doesn’t occur ever,” Mr. Megan said.

The Police Command in Gombe on the other hand said the matter was not a security issue, but an economic one, which was not tackled well at the inception.

Mr. Austin Iwar, the Gombe State Police Commissioner is suggesting that relevant stakeholders should rather focus on the fundamental problems relating to the land issues, which have not been tackled and has brought the crisis to this level for this long.

Mr. Iwar said the police and the state government were working to ensure that the matter was holistically tackled.

“And that is what the governor wants to do, trying to see how we can identify the true owners of the land. Of course we will also deal with the security implications, the fallout. But principally, deal with the key issue, once and for all. Once we are able to identify the owners of these pieces of land, because what happens is that, an ordinary person, a poor person that owns a piece of land, is farming and somebody attacks him and then he now falls back on primitive tribal sentiments,” said Mr. Iwar.

One other suggestion from the Gombe Police Command is for the involvement of the National Boundary Commission to resolve the inter-communal rivalry and clashes.

Omolayo.A