By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
In continuation of his consultations with stakeholders towards peace building in the wake of the Billiri mayhem, Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya on Tuesday, chaired a joint meeting with members of the council of emirs and chiefs, religious leaders and heads of security agencies in the state.
This was made known in a statement signed by the Director- General (Press Affairs)Government House, Gombe, Ismaila Uba Misilli.
Addressing the press after the meeting, Emir of Gombe, Alhaji Abubakar Shehu Abubakar III who is also the chairman, council of emirs and chiefs, commiserated with the victims of the unrest and called on the people of the State to continue to live in peace with one another without which he said no meaningful development can be achieved.
“Development can only be achieved if there is peace and God has blessed us in Gombe with an atmosphere of peace and tranquility and it is because of the peace we enjoy in Gombe that the State is ranked number one in terms of development in the North East sub-region”.
He described what happened in Billiri town as most unfortunate and called on the people to de-escalate the tensed situation.
The Emir of Gombe said it is a known fact that the people of Gombe are peace loving, saying in his capacity as chairman Gombe State Council of Emirs and Chiefs, whatever happens to the people of every emirate or chiefdom affects Gombe emirate as well.
He called on the people of the State particularly those in Billiri Local Government Area to remain calm and support the government.
This support, the Emir said, is the fulcrum for the provision of infrastructures like hospitals, schools, road networks among others.
Dr. Abubakar Shehu Abubakar lll used the press briefing to remind the people of the State that the law of the land empowers the Governor to appoint or depose any traditional ruler in the State, expressing confidence in the ability of the Governor to do justice without fear or favor. He also encouraged the Governor to continue with his efforts at bringing lasting peace to Billiri and the entire State.
Also speaking, regional head of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, North East zone, Rev. Abare Kallah sympathized with victims of the Billiri unrest and called for restraint, assuring that as religious leaders they will continue to preach peace and unity amongst their followers. He called for review of the curfew imposed on the Local Government.
Murshid Usman Baba Liman who spoke on behalf of Jamatu Nasril Islam, JNI also called for maximum restraint and admonished Muslim ummah against reprisal attacks.
He said Muslims should see what happened in Billiri as a predestined matter and sympathised with the victims of the crisis. He said leaders are known for steadfastness, and therefore advised the Governor to do the right thing according to the law without fear or favor.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya equally had a meeting with leaders of non- indigenous communities residing in Gombe state where he assured them of maximum safety and security as they go about their legitimate businesses.
He told them that he will do whatever he could, to ensure everyone in Gombe State lives peacefully and happily.
According to him, he has no right as a Governor to infringe on anybody’s right since he swore to protect all people in the State without fear or favour.
He described the violent protest in Billiri as despicable and something that was avoidable if only the people remained calm and allow him to exercise his constitutional responsibilities as the Governor of the State.
He said, all his actions before and during the mayhem were within the ambit of the law up to the time a 24-hour curfew was imposed on Billiri when the protest turned violent.
“I will not take lightly, any act of banditry. Your peace is of great concern to me and we did do everything possible to ensure there is no reprisal attack”, he said while commending the Police and other security agencies for their efforts in quelling the violence.
The representatives of Yoruba and Igbo communities as well as the leader of council of community elders in the State thanked the Governor for demonstrating leadership and character in the face of adversity, pledging their loyalty and support to his administration.
The Gombe State Governor had earlier met behind closed doors with traditional rulers led by the Emir of Gombe at the executive council chamber.