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OPINION

Bwari Riots, Not In Line With Gbagyi Heritage

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I want to begin by condemning the violence that erupted recently in Bwari which claimed lives and properties and left scores injured. All the victims have my deepest sympathy.

I am deeply shocked by the incident which is totally at variance with our way of life as a people. The people of Bwari, and indeed the Gbagyi speaking people as a whole, are known for their peaceful, law abiding nature, their ability to live in harmony with everyone.

When I visited the scenes of the mayhem,  I was appalled at the unprecedented level of violence and feel constrained to lend my voice to those calling for a peaceful resolution of whatever may have led to the crisis. We must learn to resolve issues with our heads rather than with our hands. Violence does not solve anything.

What happened in Bwari during the last festivities therefore, at a period when people were supposed to be celebrating Christmas and anticipating the coming new year, was morally reprehensible and completely at variance with our culture and our religious leanings.

In the history of Bwari, and in fact that of the Gbagyi speaking areas that was excised to form the Federal Capital Territory, one thing that has always been consistent is the generous nature of our people, their basic honesty and  decency. I am sure this played a very big role in the decision to bring the Federal Capital to our ancestral home.

We are proud to cede our lands for this most vital project and we consider it a true honour.  We have always done all we can to ensure that those who have come to live amongst us get to enjoy our famous hospitality and our pleasant nature and we shall continue to do so because it is our nature.

Violence is never right whatever the level of provocation. We are a nation of law and anyone who takes the law into their hands or does anything to jeopardise the peace of the land deserves our collective condemnation.

Although in recent times our country has seen an increase in violent tendencies, I  can say with all honesty that we have never witnessed anything on this scale in Bwari and we hope never to do so again.

I must urge the people of Bwari, especially our vibrant youth, to imbibe the culture of peace, accommodation and tolerance which is our heritage. Collectively, we must vow to do everything in our power to ensure that we never allow this sort of ugly incident in our communities.

Nigerians must learn to follow legal procedures rather than take matters into their own hands, especially now that we have a government we can trust, a government that takes the Rule of Law very seriously.

I want to extend my deepest condolences  to those who lost their lives, properties or means of livelihood in the fracas. I pray that this is the last we have seen of this sort of thing.

I will also like to sympathise with all the public and private institutions and businesses operating in Bwari whose services were disrupted by the incident or who suffered anxiety because of it. As you know, our people are a law abiding people and I hope you will not allow this one incident to discourage you at all.

I want to thank the security agencies for their prompt response and hope they will work hard to discourage this sort of violent behaviour in the future by investigating the cause of this incident and punishing the perpetrators of this unholy conduct.

–  Hon Bawa Bwari is the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development



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