Nigeria: Commission Of Inquiry Into Biliri Violent Protests Set Up

A commission of inquiry has been set up by the Gombe State Government to determine the causes of the Biliri Violent protests in February 2021 resulting in the loss of lives and property.

Inaugurating the Commission in Gombe, Monday, Gov. Inuwa Yahaya said “0n the face of the crisis, some people might be tempted to conclude that it emanated over the choice of a new Mai Tangle even though the protests erupted even before government took a decision on who to appoint”.

One undeniable fact, the Governor continues, is that the spread of fake news contributed immensely in the escalation of the violence.

It was in light of this, he emphasised, the Gombe State Government strongly believed that determining the causes of the crisis was needed in order to sanction those involved and take necessary measures to prevent future occurrence.

The 12 member Commission headed by Rtd Justice Mahmud Gurama as Chairman, is said to be comprised of people of impeccable character and proven integrity, drawn from diverse professional backgrounds and with extensive knowledge and experience in conflict resolution and peace building.

The Commission which has sixty days  to complete it’s assignment has 5 terms of reference which are – :   i.  to find out the remote and immediate causes of the violent protests;
ii.   to identify person or group of persons who sponsored, procured, instigated, or encouraged the violent protests and to recommend sanctions or remedial measures against such person or group of persons;
iii.   to receive and investigate complaints from victims or the families of victims and members of the public over the violent protests;
iv.   to make appropriate recommendations to Government on measures and means of preventing the future occurrence of violent protests and how to make perpetrators account for their acts; and
v.  to make such other or further recommendations as the Commission may deem fit within the ambit of the Law.

Meanwhile, the State and Local Governments have constituted committees to dialogue with the people with a view to restoring ever-lasting peace and tranquility in Billiri Local Government Area, the Governor said.

HERE UNDER IS THE FULL ADDRESS OF THE GOVERNOR AT THE INAUGURATION:-

ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY,
MUHAMMADU INUWA YAHAYA, GOVERNOR OF GOMBE STATE ON THE OCCASION OF INAUGURATION OF COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO BILLIRI VIOLENT PROTESTS HELD ON MONDAY 19TH APRIL, 2021 AT THE BANQUET HALL, GOVERNMENT HOUSE, GOMBE

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Protocols

It is with gratitude to Allah (SWT) that I address you on this important occasion of the inauguration of the Commission of Inquiry into the Billiri Violent Protests that took place between 17th and 20th February, 2021.

  1. You may recall that following the death of His Royal Highness, the Mai Tangle, Abdu Buba Maisheru II; the State Government directed the Tangale Traditional Council Kingmakers to commence the selection process of his successor. However, before the government could finalize and make a pronouncement on the new Mai Tangle, some unpatriotic elements began an Endsars-type protest (codenamed #LockdownBilliri) by blocking the Gombe-Yola federal highway and all other entry points to Billiri Local Government. Thereafter, some unscrupulous and criminal elements hijacked the protest and turned it to a violent one with the support of unpatriotic purveyors of fake news via the social media.

  2. The violent protests resulted in the deaths of innocent persons, damage and destruction of valuable property including residential houses, business premises and mosques, thereby causing the displacement of families and commercial activities. Government had to intervene in order to stall the violence and restore law and order by imposing a curfew, in addition to holding wide consultations with relevant stakeholders and sensitizing the citizenry on the need to live in peace and harmony.

  3. On the face of it, some people may be tempted to conclude that the crisis emanated over the choice of a new Mai Tangle even though the protests erupted even before government took a decision on who to appoint. Some may be tempted to give the crisis a religious or political coloration or both.  However, one undeniable fact is that the spread of fake news contributed immensely in the escalation of the violence. It is in light of this that the Gombe State Government strongly believes that determining the causes of the crisis is needed in order sanction those involved and take necessary measures to prevent future occurrence.

5.  Consequently, in the exercise of the powers conferred on me as Governor by section 2 of the Commission of Inquiry Law, I constituted a Commission of Inquiry into the Billiri Violent Protests with the following terms of reference:
i.            to find out the remote and immediate causes of the violent protests;
ii.            to identify person or group of persons who sponsored, procured, instigated, or encouraged the violent protests and to recommend sanctions or remedial measures against such person or group of persons;
iii.            to receive and investigate complaints from victims or the families of victims and members of the public over the violent protests;
iv.            to make appropriate recommendations to Government on measures and means of preventing the future occurrence of violent protests and how to make perpetrators account for their acts; and
v.            to make such other or further recommendations as the Commission may deem fit within the ambit of the Law.

  1. The Commission of inquiry comprised of people of impeccable character and proven integrity, that are drawn from diverse professional backgrounds and with extensive knowledge and experience in conflict resolution and peace building. Above all, they are people with well-established objectivity in assessment of situations and people. We are confident that they will justify the confidence reposed in them by the government and good people of Gombe State.

  2. Accordingly, the Chairman and members of the Billiri Commission of Inquiry are as follows:
    a)    Retired Justice Mahmud Gurama – Chairman
    b)   Retired AIG of Police Zubairu Muazu – member
    c)    Barr. Mahmud Bappah Aliyu      – member
    d)   Sharon Faliya Cham                 – member
    e)    Rev. Bitrus Urbanus Thaba     – member
    f)      Abdulhamid Salisu Bello        – member
    g)    Victoria Mamuda Usman      – member
    h)   Barr Robert Wabida         – member
    i)      Abdullahi Jalo (Castic)        – member
    j)      Dr. Ya’u Ahmed Kashere      – member
    k)    Barrister Musa Saidu   – Secretary/member and
    l)      H. N. Nwoye ESQ.   as Counsel to the Commission

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The Commission will have sixty days from today to submit its report to Government. The venue of the sitting of the Commission shall be High Court Complex, Southern Bypass, Gombe.

8.   I am confident that with the caliber of people constituted in this commission, they will discharge their duties with justice and fairness, and without any fear or favor. I call upon our people to provide the commission with honest, useful and genuine information and suggestions in order to move our state forward. Under no circumstances should this exercise be turned into a witch-hunting game.

  1. While this Commission of Inquiry was being constituted, the state government has taken steps to stabilize the situation in Billiri. The State and Local Governments have constituted committees to dialogue between the people with a view to restoring ever-lasting peace and tranquility in Billiri Local Government. In order to cushion the effects of the violent protests, government has recently distributed a considerable quantity of palliatives to the people directly and indirectly affected by the crisis. A high-powered committee under the Chairmanship of the Honourable Commissioner of Internal Security and Ethical Orientation was constituted to take stock of lives lost and property destroyed with a view to making recommendations to Government for possible assistance and compensation.

  2. I want to place on record our gratitude to the law enforcement agencies for their tremendous show of patriotism, commitment, professionalism and resilience before, during and after the crisis. It is my hope that traditional, religious, political and community leaders will encourage our people to embrace our common humanity. We must all learn to respect the right of every life and its liberty to seek legitimate livelihoods. If we all live up to our responsibilities, the incessant loss of lives and property shall cease.

  3. On behalf of the government and people of Gombe State I heartily congratulate My Lord, the chairman and members on their appointment and thank them for accepting to serve. While I urge you to be thorough and fair discharging your responsibilities, I wish you success in executing this difficult assignment.

  4. On this note, it is my honor to formally inaugurate the Commission of Inquiry into Billiri Violent Protests.

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Thank you and God Bless us all!
God Bless Gombe State
God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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