To avert a bloody clash over alleged farmland grabbing, a community in Adamawa state has called for the immediate removal of its village head, Shehu Bawuro, SaharaReporters exclusively learnt on Wednesday.
Residents of Gongoshi village in the Yola South Local Government Area informed SaharaReporters about a looming violent crisis arising from Bawuro's alleged tyrannical seizure of their ancestral farmlands and sale to strangers.
They further alleged that in order to bolster his land-grabbing activities, Bawuro offered 16 hectares of farmland to the commissioner of police in the state, CP Sikiru Kayode Akande.
According to them, "the immoral generosity of the village head to the police boss is his own primitive way of intimidating us into silence".
Our correspondent visited Gongoshi and interacted with a crowd of visibly worried villagers, who pleaded with the governor of the state, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri and the Lamido of Adamawa, Muhammadu Barkindo Mustapha to wade into the matter.
They warned that there might be a breakdown of law and order should the government fail to restrain Bawuro from plunging the area into needless violence.
One of the residents, a septuagenarian, Bobboi Zailani told SaharaReporters that the "village head seizes people's ancestral farmlands and sells them to powerful people”.
“He has also sold our cemetery," he added.
Asked if the community has officially complained to relevant authorities to seek redress, Zailani said yes.
He said, "We've complained to the district head of Namtari, but no positive response. We've approached the emirate council and local government authorities and we have yet to get any response.”
"We resorted to using the media to send message to the governor and the Lamido to intervene because the village head is bent on setting fire to this community," he added.
Another resident, Gabriel Gaji, lamented that the village head forcibly took his farmland and threatened to expel him from the area for being a non-Fulani person.
"I was working on my farm on the fateful day when the village head showed up and ordered me to vacate because he had reallocated my ancestral farmland to a new owner.
"He belligerently did the same thing to my son and sold his farmland to some herdsmen," he said.
Komshina Dadinkowa, a resident, said, "This is my ancestral farmland and as such, I'm ready to resist the village head, even if it means doing so with my blood."
According to Nixon Kwairanga who is also resident in the community, "we're being faced with a strange type of tyranny. This man would take our lands and sells them to strangers”.
"When I confronted him, he contemptuously told me to remove the farmland away from his domain and return to my 'Bile' ancestral origin.
"Arrogantly, he tells us he has the backing of the Lamido to sell any part of the area. He brags that all the land and even the people belong to the Lamido," he added.
Adamu Usman said, "From the moment Shehu Bawuro became the village head, we lost our peace in this area. His reign has disrupted the peace we've enjoyed from time immemorial; therefore, he must be removed.
"He has become synonymous with land grabbing; so far he has seized over 100 hectares of farmland.
"Last week a convoy of police vehicles stormed the village and we were told the village head had allocated some 16 hectares of our land to the commissioner of police.”
When SaharaReporters sought to hear from the village head, his son, Faisal Shehu Bawuro, responded and said his father did nothing wrong.
He dismissed all the allegations and challenged the complainants to produce proof of land ownership by title.
He said, "No village head can allocate or sell any land except as directed by the paramount ruler, who is the Lamido; because all the land here belongs either to the Lamido, or the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar or the former governor of Adamawa state, Murtala Nyako.”
"Yes, the commissioner of police was allocated about 16 hectares here, but directly from the emirate council and not by the village head as claimed," he explained.
The police commissioner, Akande, confirmed the gift of land, saying he was informed that the Lamido had offered him farmland as a gift. He, however, added that he did not know the location or the size of the land.