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Chieftaincy tussle splits Batta men in Adamawa

He described the appointment of the new paramount ruler as “null and void.” He said, “I’m calling on the concerned authorities to intervene and cause…

He described the appointment of the new paramount ruler as “null and void.” He said, “I’m calling on the concerned authorities to intervene and cause an action to be taken against the purported selection of an unacceptable candidate as the traditional ruler.”

In a reaction to the appointment of Mr Alhamdu Gladstone Teneke as the new paramount ruler of Batta Kingdom, Medan Teneke alleged that his names were short-changed by some cabals in Government House, Yola. Prince Medan Teneke, a dropped Commissioner in Governor Murtala Nyako’s first cabinet, is said to have been lobbying assiduously for the exalted Hamma Batta throne.

Weekly Trust gathered that before the kingmakers and state government finally resolved to endorse Alhamdu Gladstone Teneke, 63, as successor to the late Hamma Batta, there was anxiety and uncertainty over who would become the new Hamma Batta.

Though the process that produced the new Hamma Batta, a first-class chief, took a longer period than had ever happened in the past, keen observers of affairs in the Emirate attributed the delay to the vested interest said to have been exhibited by the different camps that contended for the post.

For instance, while it was gathered that royal family members of the late Hamma Batta had lobbied for the appointment of their own, an Abuja-based businessman and elder brother to the deceased Hamma Batta, Col. Hilkiah Swade (rtd) who is reportedly the only candidate from the Madon ruling clan, the state government and some powerful politicians in the state had rooted for Gladstone Teneke who also hails from the royal clan.

In Demsa, the administrative headquarters of Batta-speaking nation, there was anxiety and uncertainty over who would become the new Hamma Batta following the alleged sudden disappearance of the kingmakers for days.

The kingmakers who had earlier signed a letter addressed to the Lamido of Adamawa who is the chairman of Adamawa Traditional Council of Emirs and Chiefs on 21st January, 2010 indicating their choice of one of the princes before disappearance, were said to have flouted the process since they could not commence selection without a letter from the state government directing them to do so.

The letter was said to have been written four days earlier than the government’s letter of condolence signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Kobis Ari Thimmu. It ordered the process to begin. The letter from the state government with Ref. no SGS.10/5.S.9/VOL.1/223 dated 25th January, 2010 after condoling with the family and people of Batta chiefdom also asked the kingmakers to commence selection process. “It is necessary also for the kingmakers to commence initiating the selection process of the successor to the throne on Hamma Batta, please.”

However, a new dimension was said to have been introduced in the tussle when one of the kingmakers, Nzubiye Myayarapwa, wrote a refusal letter denying the purported selection of the one prince, saying that his endorsement was secured out of ignorance and duress. “As Nzu Madocbakun of this great kingdom, I want to inform you that I signed under duress and will wish to withdraw from such. In other words, I’m exempting myself from any blame or involvement from the said letter.”

By tradition, after kingmakers make their nominations, the state government is expected to make pronouncement on which the next Hamma Batta’s cap fits. Suddenly, four weeks after the death of the former ruler, the Secretary to the State Government, Thimmu, announced the selection of Alhamdu G. Teneke as the new Hamma Batta. This development angered some of the contenders. Teneke, the leading aggrieved contender, alleged that the state government is attempting to disrupt peace in the area by subverting the Batta culture through the imposition of a traditional ruler on the people despite protest on the chieftaincy stool. He also accused some politicians of deliberately attempting to incur the wrath of the people.

He alleged that kingmakers in Demsa accepted monetary kickback from government officials in an attempt to get a “favoured” candidate for the throne even though they knew all along that he was not. He added that, “Money is not just the root of all evils in our society; it is the alpha and omega. It can turn daylight into total darkness in a heartbeat.”

According to him, “There is a serious wind of change blowing through our traditional methods of selecting chiefs. The institution, as I said before, has become an albatross around the neck of our people and the government. I can well see a time in the future when the institution will become a voluntary ceremonial institution to be left entirely to the community that wants it, and with no government involvement in it as it is now. By that time, only candidates with enough dough and the wherewithal will be qualified to run and be selected as chief or Hamma Batta.”

A kingmaker who preferred not to be named told Weekly Trust in Demsa that they will not deviate from traditions. “Now to the situation in Demsa which is very similar to the practice in other parts of the country where a crown prince is born and not selected, it is not like the situation in much of the regions where you can be king only if you have what it takes to be king in your community.

“If the situation is as fluid as it is in some parts of the country today, I think we might as well start thinking of better alternatives to picking who will become chief in our various towns and villages. So we are going to follow due process in nominating the new Hamma Batta,” he said.

In the meantime, security operatives mostly in plain clothes could be seen deployed at strategic locations in Demsa to ensure peace in the area as the council chairman, Mr Felix Tangwami, warned that the government would not condone any act that could cause anarchy and disharmony. He advised the aggrieved parties to seek redress at the appropriate court of law.


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