Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Peace gradually returns to North

The violent that followed the announcement of the presidential election results on Monday have gradually simmered down in many cities across the North. State police, on Tuesday, confirmed the deaths of four National Youth Service Corps members and two police officers in Bauchi.
The public relations officer of Saint Gerald’s Hospital in Kaduna, John Aliyu, also confirmed that 20 bodies — victims of the protests — had been deposited at the hospital’s mortuary while about 400 injured persons were receiving treatment. There were other unverified reports of deaths and injuries across Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto, Nasarawa, Adamawa and Gombe.

Bauchi burned
The Bauchi State commissioner of police, John Abakasanga, told journalists at his office on Tuesday that church buildings, police stations, shops and residential homes worth millions of naira were destroyed in the riots. He said that the four youth corps members who died were part of 51 corpers posted to Itas Gadau, Jama’are and Giade local government areas. According to Mr Abakasanga, several youth corps members were still missing, while 20 others had been rescued from a mob that had attacked them. He said two police officers were wounded in Dambam and were recovering in a hospital. The police commissioner said that his officers had arrested over 200 people in connection with the violence, while three ballot boxes, locally-made dane guns and other weapons had been recovered from some of the suspects. He also said that two underage voters were arrested and would soon be charged to court. The Independent National Electoral Office in Bauchi Local Government was burnt down during the protests. The state resident electoral officer, Iliya Audu, who took journalists around the burnt building, said that over 500 laptops, 16 generators and other valuables in the office were taken by the protesters before the office was set on fire.

Kano curfew
In Kano, calm returned gradually following the violent protest by youth sympathetic to the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, Muhammadu Buhari. Although many people were eager to return to their offices and business places, they were unable to do so because of the curfew imposed by the state government. Law enforcement officials sent back a few people who opened their shops at the Abubakar Rimi Market. But many Kano residents who were displaced by the crisis in the Badawa, Zango, Kawaji and Brigade areas and had taken refuge at the police headquarters in Bompai, were afraid to go back until security was guaranteed. Sunday Adiku, a resident of Badawa, but who was from Benue State, said that he lost his business in the riots.
“I have no place to go as it is now, because I have no house to stay,” he said. “My little barbing shop has been burnt down.”
Charles Ugo, an Imo State indigene in his late 50s, was not sure if he had lost his home but said he was looking for something more precious.
“Out of my seven children, I can’t find three as I speak to you now, but I pray they are okay,” he said. “I spoke to them yesterday and asked them to take cover in the Army Barracks, but I have been unable to reach them because of battery problem with their phones, maybe.”

Kaduna’s hunger
The 24-hour curfew imposed by the state government in Kaduna bit hard as residents found themselves running out of food and money. Mike Agwu, a resident who lives on Kigo Road, complained that his five children, including a one-year-old baby, were going hungry because he could not go out to buy them food. Mr Agwu said that if the curfew was not lifted by the end of the day, his family would be in trouble. Admitted hospital patients were also feeling the hunger pangs as their relatives could not visit them or bring them food because of the curfew and because of fear. A medical director of a children’s hospital in Sabo-Tasha, Ephraim Edegbo, said that two women who just had their babies at the hospital were suffering from hunger. A woman who sells fried akara (bean cake) in Barnawa, a Kaduna suburb, attracted a horde of hungry residents when she opened shop on Tuesday. The woman, who usually only sold akara in the morning, was kept busy at her frying pan all through the day.

Endangered election
Analysts have been concerned that the upcoming governorship and state houses of assembly elections will be affected in the north as people might not come out and vote. Political commentators say that the fear of more violence will probably keep many at home.

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