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Crisis brews in Gombe as governor opposes kingmakers on selection of new emir

Crisis brews in Gombe as governor opposes kingmakers on selection of new emir
February 23
02:04 2021

There is a brewing crisis in Billiri local government area of Gombe state, following the governor’s refusal to announce the kingmakers’ decision on who becomes the new Mai (king) of Tangale kingdom. 

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Following the passing of the immediate past emir of Tangale Kingdom in January 2021, the kingmakers met to elect the next Mai Tangle, as the traditional ruler is called. 

Muhammad Yahaya, the governor of the state, sent a committee to oversee the election. The members of the committee included the deputy governor, the commissioner of police, the director of DSS in the state and the commissioner for local government and chieftaincy titles.

At the election, the nine kingmakers screened by the state government voted in favour of Musa Maiyamba, a graduate of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

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Five of the kingmakers, representing 56 percent of the kingmakers voted for Maiyamba, while Ahmed Magaji and Danladi Maiyamba got two votes each, sharing the other 44 percent of the votes equally.

The results were communicated to the governor, with expectations that he would announce the winner as the new Mai Tangle. 

Protest erupts in Billiri LGA

Women and youth take to the streets in Gombe

Following the governor’s refusal to announce the new emir of the Tangale kingdom, the people took to the streets to air their views on the delay. 

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“Give us our choice,” “only Dr. Musa,” the people chanted as they blocked major roads in the local government area.

Okada riders and local vigilantes also joined the protests, calling on the government to respect the will of the people. 

Lamela Lakorok, general secretary of the Tangale Community Overseas, argued that according to Gombe state chieftaincy law, the governor is expected to announce the new emir based on the decision of the kingmakers.

“Upon the death, resignation, removal or deposition of an Emir or a Chief, the Governor shall approve the appointment of an Emir or a Chief on the recommendation of the Council of Traditional Kingmakers of the Emirate or Chiefdom,” Lakorok said.

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The community also called on Gombe state legislators and the judiciary to uphold and interpret the written law and allow its full implementation in the current setting.

State imposes curfew, says governor can elect any candidate

Ibrahim Njodi, the secretary to the state government, announced the state’s decision to impose a curfew in Billiri, following the protest. 

“Following the current eruption of violence in Billiri Town, which has degenerated into a security threat to both lives and property. Gombe State Government has imposed 24 hours curfew within Billiri Local Government Area with effect from 6:00pm today, 19th February, 2021,” Njodi said.

“The Government affirmed the need for peaceful co-existence among the citizenry and commitment to the protection of lives and properties. Consequently the Government has suspended all forms of gatherings in Billiri Local Government Area.”

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Earlier, Njodi had said the amended laws in the state have given the governor the powers to choose one of the three final candidates for the stool.

He said the journey began when 23 persons expressed interest in the position but through screening and some other important considerations in the selection process, the number was trimmed to 18 and eventually three candidates.

He said the last three candidates secured votes from the kingmakers, but are “now equals in the eyes of the law” irrespective of the number of votes they scored. 

He emphasised that the number of votes by kingmakers are not the determinants of who becomes the emir, adding that their votes only determine who makes the top three nominees for the governor’s consideration. 

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“You all know that the 2020 laws of Gombe State as amended gives the Governor the prerogative to select one from the top 3 candidates,” he said.

CAN declare 3-day fast, ask gov to respect the peoples’ wish

There are claims that the governor is attempting to impose a Muslim on the kingdom by overturning the kingmakers vote for Musa Maiyamba, a Christian.

In response to this, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Gombe chapter has called for peace in the LGA, and asked Christians to embark on a three-day fast and prayers.

CAN also called on the governor to respect the wishes of the people of Tangale by expediting action on the selection of the new emir.

“We are calling on the Government of Gombe State under the able leadership of His Excellency the Dan Lawal Tangale, Alhaji Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, the Executive Governor of Gombe State to expedite action in respecting the wishes of the people by doing the needful for the sake of peace, religious freedom and equity,” John Adedigba, CAN secretary in Gombe, said.

The Tangale Community in Diaspora asked the governor to declare the people’s choice as the next Mai Tangle.

“We want to make clear that we will not abdicate our customs and traditions. Beware that we are adhering to the democratic principles in our constitution where the candidate with the majority vote is declared the winner, just as in the gubernatorial election that put you in office,” a statement signed by Lamorok read.

“Any action that thwarts the will of the people for political, religious, or selfish expediency is not welcomed. 

“We will always respect the position and role of the governor over the state, but he does not and cannot choose the Mai Tangle according to the law”.

The governor is yet to announce any of the three final candidates as the new emir of Tangale but has continued to call for peace in the local government. 

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