Easter Tragedy! 10 die, 30 injured as Boys’ Brigade, NSCDC official clash in Gombe
Ten persons reportedly died and 30 others injured in Gombe in an incident involving the Boys’ Brigade drawn from St Peter’s Anglican Church, Madaki; two parishes of ECWA Church in Bamusa and Barunde; and an official of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.
The NSCDC official was identified through his ID card as ASC II Adamu Abubakar, and he was reportedly driving a Honda car with registration No. AS 385 GME.
The incident reportedly happened during a night procession to Sabon-Layi Area of Gombe Metropolis, where the church members were expected to celebrate Easter Monday.
The Gombe Police Public Relations Officer, SP Mary Malum, confirmed the development. According to him: “There are 10 death cases and 30 injured victims receiving treatment at the state specialist hospital and other private health institutions.
“Eight out of the 10 dead persons were members of the Gombe State Boys’ Brigade, while the other two were the driver of the car and his friend.”
However, while the Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps, Gombe State, Dr. Godwin Omiko, described the incident as an accident, eyewitness said it was rather a direct confrontation between the Anglican and ECWA churches’ Boys’ Brigades and the NSCDC official.
An eyewitness, Michael Adeniran, a member of ECWA Boys’ Brigade narrated: “The incident happened around 1.00am when a salon car belonging to the Civil Defence was prevented from passing through the road.
“However, when our pastor prevailed on us, we allowed the driver to pass, but after dropping off his female passenger, he moved stealthily with his car from behind and cleared our members.”
Another eyewitness at the scene of the incident, Michack Michael, confirmed that some ECWA Boys’ Brigade who survived the incident immediately fell on the salon car’s driver and killed him.
“We wanted to burn the car, but we were stopped.”
Survivors at the male surgical ward confirmed the attack. One of them, identified simply as Godwin, noted that the NSCDC official returned after he had been allowed to pass and “leveled” members of his group.
Another survivor, David, said, “This is not the first time we are embarking on such procession in the wee hours of the night, as we had done it in previous festive seasons.
Another eyewitness, Zakaria Ibrahim, blamed the Civil Defence officer for taking the law into his hands, saying, “the man deliberately came to kill us.”
The victims were said to have been rushed to the Gombe State Specialist Hospital as soon as the incident happened.
Gombe State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Kennedy Ishaya, condemned the incident.
“It is rather unfortunate that this type of attack was recorded. There are various degrees of injuries, as there are those with head injuries and lacerations,” Ishaya added.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Governor of Gombe State and the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria, North East chapter, on Monday appealed to the Christian Community to remain calm.
The State Deputy Governor, Mr. Charles Iliya, appealed for calm, adding that the government would take all necessary measures to ensure justice is done.
Iliya noted that it was a painful experience, but appealed for calm to allow the relevant authorities carry out their duties.
Rev. Abare Kala, the North East CAN chairman, said the association would follow due process to seek redress on the situation.
Kala said that the Christian body was putting in efforts that would ensure that the situation is properly managed.
“We call on the Christian Community in Gombe to take the situation in good faith, be calm and also follow the right channel in seeking redress on the issue on ground.
“Two wrongs cannot make a right. So, I appeal for caution in the process of addressing the issue. If we apply the wrong approach, it will lead to another issue.
“For now, we are trying to calm the situation by appealing to Christians to see reasons for calm and allow the authorities concerned to take necessary measures.
“We have informed the security agencies concerned about the situation on ground.
“We are aware of the pain this sad event had caused, but let’s be calm and allow the leadership to handle the matter,” he said.
Michael Achika, the captain of the ECWA Church’s Boys’ Brigade from Bogo (Gombe State), appealed to the government to offset the bills that would be incurred by those undergoing treatment.
Achika also urged the the government to compensate the families of the deceased.
He commended the staff of the Gombe State Specialist Hospital for quickly attending to the injured when they were taken there.
He said that the victims were responding to treatment.