Recently, the political terrain in Kano State was heated up following violent clashes between supporters of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and those of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), with each side blaming the other for the development.
Analysts believe the situation is a major threat to the 2023 general elections in the state unless it is immediately addressed.
The clash, which reportedly happened in Gwale Local Government Area of Kano metropolis, left few victims with varying degrees of injury. Daily Trust on Sunday reports that blame game has refused to abate since then.
While the NNPP accused the chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Abbas, of mobilising thugs to attack its members, and the police of culpability, the latter accused it of engaging in wild propaganda to create chaos and undermine the forthcoming general elections.
Briefing journalists over the attack, the chairman of the NNPP in Kano, Umar Haruna Doguwa, decried the “nonchalant attitude of divisional police officers of Mandawari and Chiranci areas of Gwale Local Government, which he said was working in contradiction to the resolve of the new commissioner of police in the state.
Doguwa alleged that on November 12, they complained to the then divisional police officer over some attack.
“Also, on December 25, consistently on two consecutive days, one Abba Dagi Ochi, Shehi and Junaidu led a group of thugs to attack peaceful inhabitants of that area, causing injuries on some people, including an 11-year-old boy, Baffa Faruk.
“We had reason to visit his office to put the complaint across to him but he was not there. His DCO, who is just a few meters away from the scene of the event, pretends innocent to what is even happening in the area,” he alleged.
But the spokesperson for the Gawuna/Garo (APC) Campaign Council and Commissioner for Information and Internal Affairs, Malam Muhammad Garba, alleged that two members of the NNPP led others to attack people and destroy APC campaign items in Galadanci quarters in Gwale Local Government Area.
He further alleged that the attack followed a trek in the area by the NNPP gubernatorial candidate, Abba Kabir Yusuf, accompanied by a multitude of thugs, after attending a wedding fatiha in the area.
He said it was unfortunate that after the incident, Yusuf was heaping blame on the APC and even calling for the arrest of its chairman, Abdullahi Abbas.
Victims, residents narrate ordeal
One of the victims, Hassan Chiranci recounted, “We were putting up our party’s banner when Abdullahi Abbas, the chairman of the APC came out of his house and started insulting us. His people later came and removed the banner.
He said they returned on Sunday and stabbed a young boy named Baffa and threatened to kill anyone hoisting NNPP posters.
Another resident who was simply identified as Hauwa said they were always afraid of being attacked by thugs, but on the day of the clash, she saw one Ochi, one of Abdullahi Abbas’s aides, who promised not to allow any harm come to her children. He added that thugs forced their way into her house and destroyed all the political banners there, threatening to burn down the house.
“They stabbed many people and destroyed banners while the police watched but did not do anything,” Hauwa alleged.
Recounting how he was stabbed, Yusuf Faruk, known as Baffa said, “I was sitting outside our house in the Dan Makoyo area when I saw the thugs approach. They pounced on me and stabled me in the head. I ran with all the might I had. Thankfully, I escaped.
“There were five in number. I don’t know who they are, but one Namoroko was being mentioned amongst them,” he said.
On his part, the chairman of the APC in Gwale Local Government, Umar Kashe Kwabo, said the dispute between supporters of the APC and NNPP was not new in politics, but there was the need to embrace peace.
“Recently, I received news from Gwale ward that an APC banner was posted in a building very close to the NNPP office and I instantly told them to remove it as it would look like we were looking for their trouble.
“The dispute that took place on Sunday was over a banner our members posted in an uncompleted building very close to our APC chairman’s house and NNPP supporters tore it, which was provocative,” Kwabo said.
Meanwhile, the Kano Peace Committee said the unfolding political happenings were threatening peace and security in the state.
“The utterances of the leadership of both parties are quite dangerous to peace and public safety in Kano. It is uncalled for and a total contravention of the efforts so far invested on the campaigns for the promotion of peace and security in the state and electoral laws 2022 as amended.
“As the Kano and national peace committees are disturbed by the emerging threat to peace and security in the state, we wish to unequivocally condemn the development as unacceptable and unpardonable and call in strong terms, the leadership of the two parties to respect the rules of the game in the interest of public safety, security and wellbeing of Kano residents.
“Kano and national peace committees are planning to organise high-level engagements with political actors in the state, including the signing of the peace accord, which shall be presided over by the chairman, National Peace Committee, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd), GCFR.
“The planned interventions by both committees are to pave way for deliberate actions to ensure peace and security in the state,” part of a statement signed by Ibrahim A. Waiya, head of its secretariat reads.
The committee further called on the state governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, to prevail on the situation by ensuring that all the political parties are accorded the enabling environment to conduct their activities within the confines of the Nigerian extant laws without any hindrance or intimidation. It also called on the commissioner of police, Mamman Daura, to investigate the alleged attack on some households in Gwale Local Government Area.
No formal report – Police
Although the chairman of Gwale Local Government said the issue was once brought to the divisional crime officer’s notice for intervention, the spokesman of the Kano State police command, DSP Abdullahi Haruna Kiyawa, said there was no formal complaint from the NNPP.
“We had a meeting with all the divisional police officers and they said that no one from the NNPP had ever lodged a formal complaint to them over the issue.
“Before that, we had a series of meetings with leaders of political parties in the state on how to conduct violent-free elections. During the meetings we gave them phone numbers to call us as soon as there is any problem. Therefore, if a person has such complaint, the obvious thing is to call the numbers or write directly to the commissioner of police in the state. And I assure you that the necessary action will be taken,” he said.
Daily Trust on Sunday, however, later gathered that the police arrested at least six persons in relation to the clash.
Tension between APC and NNPP on the rise
Recently, the tension between the two parties increased, especially after the APC chairman’s statement regarding the 2023 elections in Kano.
In a video that went viral on the social media, Abdullahi Abbas was seen during the flag-off of the party’s gubernatorial campaign in Gaya Local Government Area repeating the same statement he made in 2019, which many people considered provocative.
Abbas said that by any means and measure, whatever it takes, the APC must win the 2023 elections in Kano.
This statement caused an uproar in Kano, especially with the NNPP leadership condemning the APC chairman’s choice of words, while also classifying it as a threat to the stability of the state and the upcoming elections.
Abbas later alleged that opposition parties were deliberately misinterpreting his statement, saying he did not mean any harm.
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that this conflict is coming at a time the federal and state governments, as well as security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are holding meetings with leaders of all the political parties in the country to ensure that the 2023 elections are conducted without problems.