A member of the House of Representatives representing Bauchi federal constituency, Yakubu Shehu Abdullahi, who the police declared wanted over an alleged incitement, disturbance of public peace and culpable homicide, has been attracting public interest. Daily Trust on Sunday spotlights the issues.
Abdullahi came to the limelight during the 2015 general elections when he contested and won the State House of Assembly election under the All Progressives Congress (APC) but left the party at the eve of the 2019 elections after he lost his bid to represent Bauchi federal constituency.
The lawmaker, who has grassroots value in Bauchi metropolis, became popular after he fell out with the former governor of Bauchi State, Muhammad Abdullahi Abubakar over the outcome of the party primaries and dumped the ruling APC to opposition Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and won the seat of the Bauchi federal constituency in 2019.
During the governorship election, Abdullahi teamed up with other gladiators to defeat the then governor, Abuabakar, which brought on board Bala Mohammed to power in 2019, a situation that increased the propensity of the lawmaker’s political profile.
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On March 8, 2023, a violent clash broke during the APC gubernatorial campaign rally in Duguri, the hometown of Governor Bala Mohammed, where one person was killed and 15 other supporters of the PDP and residents of the town sustained various degrees of injury.
Abdullahi was declared wanted by the Nigeria Police Force for criminal conspiracy, causing grievous hurt, disturbance of public peace and culpable homicide approved by the Inspector General of the Police (IGP) Usman Alkali Baba through the Bauchi State police command. The police further announced that it had placed N1million reward for anyone with useful information that could lead to the arrest of the 45-year-old lawmaker.
On their part, the director-general of the Bala Mohammed Gubernatorial Campaign Council, Farouk Mustapha, alleged that the APC thugs launched an unprovoked attack on their supporters and residents of the area.
Mustapha claimed that trouble started when the gubernatorial candidate of the ruling APC, Ambassador Saddique Baba Abubakar went to Duguri town in Alkaleri Local Government Area for a last rush campaign accompanied by many notable politicians across the country.
Also, Salisu A. Barau, the director, media and publicity of the APC Campaign Council said, “Suspected hired thugs, using dane guns, opened fire on the convoy of the Bauchi State gubernatorial candidate of the APC, Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubukar in Duguri, the birthplace of Governor Bala Mohammed.
“Sounds of sporadic shootings were heard around the premises where a campaign lecture was being held, which made security operatives at the venue to rush to the scene. In an attempt to disarm the thugs, three people were shot: a member of staff of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), member of a vigilance group and one from the hunters union.”
Survivors of the violence accused the embattled lawmaker, Abdullahi, for allegedly inciting and directing suspected APC thugs dressed in local hunters’ attires to unleash terror on youths sitting beside a primary school, who refused to the join the campaign, and other residents of Duguri.
Narrating their ordeal, Shayau Musa Saleh, one of the survivors said, “When the APC campaign team entered the town, they went straight to the district head for traditional homage. Some members of the team, especially local hunters holding sticks and other weapons, stormed the venue blowing local trumpets and bangs.
“While we sat at our joint as usual, the candidate of the APC arrived the venue of the rally from the district head’s place; unfortunately, the local hunters surrounded our joint without any provocation and descended on the people with various weapons, hitting everyone they sighted. They broke many people’s heads, including those living near the premises of the rally,” Saleh alleged.
Corroborating Saleh, Abdulaziz Rilwanu Duguri, who sustained fracture during the clash said, “The incident happened at the Duguri primary school, where some residents, especially youths, meet and discuss amongst themselves, but majority of the youth are supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It caught up with me two days after I got married. There were traders selling roasted meat and vegetables at the place.
“We were shocked when we heard some media reports that the APC claimed they were attacked. That’s an absolute lie. If you want to attack a person or group of people you don’t allow them to enter your territory.
“The APC campaign entourage was warmly received at the palace in Duguri. They ate and drank; some of them prayed and delivered their campaign messages to traditional institution at the palace peacefully.
“While the gubernatorial candidate and other personalities were delivering their campaign messages, the thugs, dressed like local hunters holding various types of weapons arrived at the primary school, venue of the rally, taken all manner of drugs openly in preparation for their ungodly act.
“Immediately the leaders finished at the palace, Wakilin Birni (Abdullahi) arrived at the venue and signal a gesture to the thugs and they launched the attack house-to-house, hitting anyone the saw with sticks, axes and chasing. Vehicles, including commercial tricycles parked by the roadside, were smashed.
“The thugs caught up with me at the joint beside the primary school, where they attacked and injured many people. In the process I sustained injuries on my head and fracture on my hand and bruises.
“The thugs wore hunters’ clothes with the inscription of Wakilin Birni (Rep Abdullahi) visibly written. The person killed in the attack was an over 60-year-old ward head, who was among the personalities that received the entourage at the palace. It was Abdullahi that gave the order to launch the attack,” Rilwanu added.
In what appears to be a new twist of the Duguri violence clash, the immediate past Speaker of the House Representatives, Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara, addressed a press conference on Wednesday in Bauchi, where he accused the police of colluding with the PDP government to declare Rep Abdullahi wanted
Dogara said, “I don’t want to say it, but it is glaring that there is a collusion between the police and the state government to come hard on members of the opposition, particularly the APC. We witnessed what befell the Wakilin Birni. The police declared him wanted, but in all honesty, we all were there in Duguri when the incident happened and we saw somebody holding a loud speaker used to sell drugs at the local market and was calling on the people of Duguri to come out with weapons for jihad against the APC.
“I was there, not that I heard or somebody told me. By time we went to the rally venue and started talking, you could hear gunshots inside the town. Who were the people shooting? They shot three of our security details. Have those who shot them been declared wanted? That’s why I said the police were colluding with the government against the APC. We call on the police to desist from doing that
“The governor has been telling a lot of lies to cover his tracks. Why are the authorities going after members of the APC, knowing that he had lost? They want to assist him. We don’t know, but it is a conjecture, otherwise, why are you breaking the law?”
Reacting shortly after Dogara’s allegations, the commissioner of police in Bauchi State, CP Aminu Alhassan, said the police were not partisan. CP Alhassan, therefore, said he did not have any preferred gubernatorial candidate amongst those contesting to rule the state.
Commenting on the declaration of Rep Abdullahi wanted, the commissioner of police said it was following the violence that erupted at Duguri, the governor’s hometown in Alkaleri Local Government, which left one person dead and 15 others injured.
The commissioner explained, “When we heard that somebody died and all accusing fingers were pointing at four prominent persons in that group, we had to start looking for them. Honestly, one of the fastest ways of getting any information is to first talk to stakeholders. I told the APC that I would need at least two major stakeholders in the state and they assured me that they were coming.
“Late in the evening I had to contact them through my phone. I even sent a message to them, stating that I needed them because allegations were going on. I even sent pictures of the allegations, but we could not rely on allegations.”
“I was later told by the stakeholders I contacted that they could not get to Abdullahi, so I told them that I was waiting for them to bring him and Bakaro to me; I was going out to arrest them. I told them not to feel slighted and sent my operatives to sneak into every nook and cranny where the people were. But on hearing that I was looking for them, they all ran out of Bauchi State.
“This is time for digital tracking, so I discovered how he left Bauchi and where he went before finally reaching Abuja. We don’t have time to go to Abuja to look for him because we are occupied with preparation for the elections.”
When contracted, the embattled lawmaker denied the allegations and said that Governor Bala Mohammed was behind his indictment, adding, “He doesn’t want me to come to Bauchi for fear of being defeated in the governorship election. He also said he was not formally invited by the police.
Daily Trust on Sunday recalls that on May 16, 2021, the Bauchi Emirate Council indefinitely suspended Rep Abdullahi as the Wakilin Birnin Bauchi. Reacting, Abdullahi alleged that the governor was behind his suspension over his refusal to join the PDP when he dumped the PRP but instead returned to the APC.
On October 4, 2021, the Bauchi State Government demolished Abdullahi’s house for an alleged violation of government’s policy on land administration, in addition to alleging that it was used as a hideout by criminal elements terrorising residents of neighbouring houses.
Investigation also revealed that all the frontline governorship candidates in Bauchi are conducting their campaigns with lots of thugs masquerading as local hunters, who display dangerous weapons during campaign rallies to intimidate perceived opposition.
Speaking with Daily Trust on Sunday, the chairman of the National Youth Council, Alkaleri branch, Comrade Bala Mohammed Duguri, demanded a thorough investigation and prosecution of anyone found wanting, no matter how highly placed he would be in the society, as well as compensate victims of the attack to serve as deterrent to forestall future occurrence.