Opinion: Don’t Confuse Yahaya Bello’s Brigandage in Igala Land With Religious Unrest


No matter how much time and volume of water with the scouring of detergents one expends to wash the spots of a leopard, the stealth jungle predator will still remain spotty.

Nigerians and indeed Kogites, especially of the Igala stock, are now accustomed to the violent antics of Yahaya Bello in Kogi East senatorial district supported of course by the Buhari-led APC government at the center since the time that he fraudulently entered Lugard House Lokoja till date.

The ethnic and religious chauvinist has never hidden his disdain for the Igala people whom he falsely accuse of oppressing other minority tribes, especially his Ebira base, since the creation of Kogi State.

Yahaya Bello has on numerous occasions boasted that he was on a mission to gradually decimate the political base of the Igalas, render them irrelevant politically and supplant their legitimate demographic advantage with a bogus contraption of some roguish population figures of Ebiras and Okuns.

He also promised to unleash violence on Igalas and Igala land as conveyed openly in his now famous onomatopoeic ‘them go hear tatatatata..’ song with which he sets his dogs of war on hapless political opponents; whether real or imagined.

The horrendous memories of the atrocities that he superintended over during and after the November 2019 gubernatorial election in Igala land in particular and Kogi State generally remain fresh on our minds and on the minds of keen observers till date.

Alhaji Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has over the years increasingly seen violence or the threat of it as a potent tool of governance. We are therefore not surprised by his re-action to the on-going nation-wide peaceful protests by Nigerian youths against Police brutality in the country. Whereas both the Federal and other state governments have restrained themselves from employing their traditional high-handedness to address the protests, knowing well that Nigerians and the international community are watching keenly, Yahaya Bello as usual chose to go the only way known to him.

Violence and intimidation are his tools and was quick to mobilize some hoodlums bearing cudgels, machetes and other weapons to harass, injure or maim youths that dared to join the nation-wide protest in Lokoja, the Kogi state capital.

Having succeed in silencing the Lokoja youths, Bello turned his attention to Kogi East where he projected that the youths might join the mass protest. Through the instrumentality of his standby bands of political Rottweilers in Igala land, he gallivanted the streets and crannies of Igala land like a conquering army looking for any unguided youth that dared to come out into the streets in the name of protest.

And when his dogs of war failed to see any gathering of youths, they turned their anger on a religious procession of Christian faithfuls whom they pursued into a Church premises at Anyigba. They humiliated, beat up, injured and even kidnapped some adherents from the Church premises.

By this, Yahaya Bello sought to provoke religious war among the Igalas and unfortunately, some persons have began falling for the facade already.

Let it be known to all keen observers that Igala land and the entire Kogi State is a religiously plural settlement where Christians and Muslims live happily among themselves. Like South Weat Nigeria, it is common to see adherents of both faiths in both nuclear and extended families in the whole Kogi state.

Therefore, there is no way Yahaya Bello and his bands can succeed in their current misadventure.

Furthermore, majority of Igalas and indeed Kogites generally already know who Yahaya Bello is. We are well accustomed to his antics and that is why I enjoin all Igalas and the good people of Kogi state to ignore the current unjustified harassment of innocent worshippers by Yahaya Bello’s agents and remain united, law abiding and go about their legitimate businesses.

I am aware that the incident has been reported to law enforcement agents and they will do the needful, especially under prevailing circumstances.

I won’t sign off without sounding a note of warning to Yahaya Bello and his cohorts in crime as usual to desist from their dangerous misadventures in Igala land or will soon face the wrath of the people.

Let it be known to Yahaya Bello that although he thinks he can hide under Constitutional immunity to perpetrate crimes against innocent peoples of Kogi state and majorly the Igalas, a day of reckoning will come some days when he will be made to account for all his atrocities. Until then, the youths of Nigeria are on the march and are headed for people like him that are misusing executive power to oppress the governed in Nigeria.

Let those that have ears listen carefully and hear words of wisdom billowing in the air. A new Nigeria beckons!

– Usman Okai Austin writes from Abuja.

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