There was uneasy calm on Sunday at the university town of Nsukka in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State following the burning of two mosques and property belonging to Hausa community by irate youths.
The PUNCH learnt that trouble started on Saturday when some Hausa people attacked and stabbed a tricycle operator, who conveyed a Hausa woman, identified as Aisha, with her goods to the Army barracks.
It was gathered that the woman refused to pay the rider the agreed transport fare of N750.
Aisha, who trades in fresh tomatoes and other perishable goods, instead of paying the tricycle rider N750, said the charge was much and offered to pay N500, a development that sparked exchange of words and subsequently attracted a crowd.
It was gathered that while people were trying to find a common ground, Aisha placed a call to her brothers, who in turn came in their numbers.
It was learnt that after giving the driver a beating of his life, one of them stabbed him on the chest.
Angered by the attack on the tricycle operator, youths of the area mobilised and launched what seemed like a reprisal and allegedly destroyed two mosques and other valuables belonging to the Hausa community in the area.
Two of the Hausa attackers, Hassan Yakubu and Nurudeen Mohammed, were reported to have been picked up by irate youths, who descended on them to settle the scores.
Hassan, who spoke with newsmen, revealed that his sister Aisha contacted him on the phone, but before he arrived at the scene, one of his brothers, Nurudeen, had stabbed the tricycle operator.
He said, “My sister Aisha contacted me on the phone that she had a problem with a tricycle rider and that I should come. However, before I arrived there, my brother, Nurudeen was already there.”
“In short, he and my other brothers had fought with the rider. Unfortunately, he (Nurudeen) stabbed him. So, when he fled, the youths picked on me.”
An eyewitness told our correspondent that the mob blocked the entry and exit points to the popular army barracks junction in Nsukka, burning tyres and destroying items belonging to Hausa people immediately it was alleged that the tricycle rider had died.
It was gathered that the military from the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu, later arrived at the scene with over three Hilux vans and Armoured Personnel Carrier and calmed the situation.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Diocese of Nsukka has appealed for calm, saying that the stabbed keke operator, who was rumoured to have died, was still alive and responding to medical treatment at its hospital.
The church, in a statement titled, ‘Nsukka is peaceful, don’t be incited to violence’, was signed by Diocesan Secretary/Chancellor, Rev. Fr. Cajetan Iyidobi. Fr. Iyidobi said that the Bishop, Most Rev, Godfrey Onah, had appealed to all sides involved in the skirmish to remain calm but vigilant.
However, efforts to get the reaction of the state police command on the development were unsuccessful as the Commissioner of Police, Ahmad Abdurrahman, didn’t answer his calls as his phone rang out.
He also did not respond to text messages sent to him as of the time of filing this report.
@ Punch Newspaper