Kwara govt, others condemn attack on dignitaries at prayer ground
• Saraki was not attacked, says media aide
PANDEMONIUM broke out yesterday in Ilorin when some miscreants stormed the Moslem Central Praying Ground, Asa Dam Road, while attempting to forcefully gain entrance into the Very Important Personalities (VIPs) section of the ground.
The mob in their hundreds chanted unprintable slogans against the VIPs, and sporadically attempted pelting them with sachets of water but such efforts were thwarted by the heavy presence of security personnel at the event.
Signs of a likely problem had been envisaged as early as 7 a.m. when security personnel cordoned off the venue and commenced serious screening of would be worshippers at the event.
At the event were the Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki, the Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, Ali Ahmad, The Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, The Chief Imam of Ilorin Alhaji Mohammed Bashir among others.
The Police spokesman in the state, Ajayi Okasanmi (ASP), confirmed the arrest of “eight miscreants” at the event, with a promise to step up more investigations into the immediate and remote causes of the mayhem.
About two people were unofficially said to have been injured while three vehicles were equally damaged at the sprawling venue.
The state Police command had few days ago through the Commissioner of Police, Esosa Amadasun pre-empted the ugly incidence linking it with alleged non- payment of workers’ salaries in the state.
Addressing reporters after the incident at the state’s police headquarters, Ahmadu Bello Way, Ilorin, Okasanmi said, “as you are aware, today is the celebrations of Eid-el-Kabir and as usual, we deployed enough police officers to the venue and in synergy with other security operatives, we provided the much-needed security.
“In the course of prayers, there we’re some miscreants begging for money. It had always been their practice. They wanted to forcefully go to where the VIPs were seated in order to gain their attention, but we prevented them from doing so.
“We have arrested eight of them, they are in our custody. About two or three people were injured and about the same number of vehicles were equally damaged. The people arrested are not civil servants but miscreants. The prayers eventually took place and we gave enough security to everybody present while returning home after the prayers.”
The media office of the Senate President has debunked claims of an attack on Dr. Bukola Saraki who was also at the Ilorin Praying Ground.
According to a statement signed by Kayode Omotoshe and issued to reporters yesterday in Ilorin, the hoodlums attempting to foment mayhem at the venue were promptly apprehended by security personnel at the event.
Omotoshe said, “the attention of the Media Office of the Senate President has been drawn to media reports that the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, was allegedly attacked at the Eid Prayer Ground during the prayers to mark the Eid-el-Kabir in Ilorin.
“The Senate President arrived at the venue this morning without any incident, prayed with other Moslem faithful, including the Emir of Ilorin, His Royal Highness, Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Hon. Ali Ahmad and a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Alfa Belgore, among others.
“Before the Senate President left the prayer ground, he spoke to reporters who had asked him about his message for Nigerians to mark the Eid-el-Kabir.
“We want to say that nothing can be further from the truth as the Senate President was never attacked nor was there any attempt made on his life to warrant him being ‘whisked away’ as reported by a section of the media.
“We however observe that there was a protest allegedly staged by local government employees over purported non-payment of salaries which hoodlums attempted to hijacked but this development was immediately curtailed by security agents.
“Therefore, to say that the Senate President was attacked at the venue of the prayers is totally false and a figment of the imagination of those behind the story because the protest was never targeted at him, neither was any missile hurled at him.
“The Kwara State Government has since issued a statement in which it stated that majority of the workers in the state have received their salaries and that those yet to receive theirs will do so on Monday as Thursday and Friday of this week are public holidays.”
Meanwhile, the Kwara State government in its own statement condemned the attack on dignitaries at the Ilorin Eid praying ground during yesterday’s Eid-el-Kabir celebrations, saying it was absurd, barbaric and unislamic.
In a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Abdulwahaab Oba, the government said it heard of plans by some aggrieved politicians in collaboration with some of the local government employees and teachers to protest arrears of salaries owned them by their various local government authorities.
“As a result of this”, according to the statement”, government quickly went out of its way to negotiate and secure bank loans to offset the arrears pending the time when the federal government bailout will be released as a result of which the concerned workers promptly received their salaries as directed by the state governor”.
Government therefore wonders for what purpose and to whom the attack on Thursday was directed since majority of state and local government workers, including primary school teachers, have received their salaries.
The state government said those that were yet to receive their salaries would do so by next Monday as Thursday and Friday are public holidays.
The statement urged politicians not to turn the state of harmony into another state of violence urging the police to bring to justice without delay those already apprehended while imploring the people to mark the Eid El Kabir holidays peacefully and with prayers for the quick resolution of the challenges facing the national economy.
Already, the state government through Dr. Muideen Akorede the senior special assistant (Media) to Abdulfatah Ahmed, the state Governor, said that the government had since Wednesday this week commenced the payment of salaries of the workers in the state’s employment.
Akorede yesterday in Ilorin added that the exercise would have been concluded this week but for the public holiday. He said that those who could not assess their salaries before the holiday would do so on Monday September 28, this year.
According to him, “the Kwara State government said emphatically that majority of state and local government workers, including primary school teachers, have received their salaries.
“Those that are yet to, will receive their salaries by next Monday as Thursday and Friday are public holidays. There is therefore no reason for anyone or group to spread negative rumours or incite trouble on any account as Governor Ahmed approved the payment of state and local government workers last Tuesday in anticipation of monthly allocation to the state and federal government salary bailout for local government councils.”
He urged the people to mark the Eid-el-Kabir holiday peacefully and with prayers for the quick resolution of the challenges facing the national economy.
Saraki, the Emir and the Chief of Imam, while speaking at the praying ground, sued for peace as they predicted a brighter tomorrow for the state and the nation.
Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State had on Wednesday urged Moslem faithfuls to use the occasion of the celebration of this year Eid-el-Kabir to imbibe the spirit of sacrifice, good neighbourliness and selfless services as exemplified in Islamic religion.
In the same vein, the Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, Dr. Ali Ahmad said the best way to celebrate was for the people of the state to shun divisible vices that could threaten the corporate existence of Nigeria.
Ahmed and Ahmad in separate chats with reporters yesterday in Ilorin, the state capital, predicted a brighter future for the nation and her people, despite the present seeming economic recession.
Ahmed said that Nigerians should always work for the good and progress of the country above personal or sectional interest.
He advised Moslems to appreciate the essence of Eid-el-Kabir as a symbolic representation of total submission to the will of God, goodness to one another and services to humanity as exhibited by Prophet Ibrahim.
The governor expressed gratitude to religious leaders, traditional rulers, community leaders, trade unions and politicians and the entire people of the state for their prayers and love and for ensuring sustainable peace in the state.
Ahmed noted that for Nigeria to realise its full potentials as a nation, Nigerians across religious boundaries should work collectively, consciously and submit to common religious doctrine of being their brothers’ keepers.
“We must therefore use the Eid-el-Kabir as another opportunity for us to reflect on the essence of sacrifice and humility as fulcrums for the promotion of harmonious relationship in our polity,” he said.
The governor assured the people of the state of his administration’s commitment to the formation and implementation of policies and programmes designed to boost their socio-economic status.