The Board of Trustees and Board of Elders of Tangale Community Development Association in Gombe state have alleged that the state government was using the compensation of victims of the Billiri crisis to syphon government resources.
They made the allegation at a joint press conference at the NUJ Secretariat in Bauchi, explaining that they left Gombe because “each time we have a press conference, the government will go and muzzle the press and it won’t be reported.”
A member of the Board of Trustees, Daniel Maddo, said that video evidence presented by the State/Muslim Counsel to the Commission of Enquiry showed that most of the non-indigenes with shops in the market had packed their goods from the stalls before they were burnt.
He said, “The forum also observed with dismay the compensation paid by Government in respect of properties lost to the tune of over N500 million to owners of stalls burnt during the mayhem. Equally disturbing is the over-bloated compensation was paid which was not commensurate with the losses incurred.”
Maddo cited that one of such spurious compensations was a tomato seller who was given N500,000 as compensation for the goods she lost saying that was too outrageous.
He said, “Indeed, we learned that some few honest individuals were said among the business community were said to have rejected the over-bloated compensation. In short, the exercise was intended to plunder the resources of Billiri LGA.”
He added that most disturbing and unheard of in governance was the resolve by the State Government that “80% of the bill for this compensation would be borne by Billiri Local Government. In effect therefore the Government of Gombe State had found the people of Billiri local Government guilty before receiving the report of his own Commission of Enquiry and give them collective punishment.”
He lamented that their people were been denied positions they were entitled to by the Inuwa Yahaya-led administration pointing out that they have already filed a case in court “where the most qualified person to be Chief Judge and who has even acted as Chief Judge, Justice Beatrice Iliya, has been denied the position by the government.”
But in a swift reaction, the Director-General of Media and Information, Gombe State, Samaila Misilli, in a telephone interview said the allegations were “baseless”.
Misilli said that the compensation formula for the Billiri crisis was approved by the State Executive Council and was done to those who lost their lives, property, places of worship and the rest adding that the report of the panel of inquiry was submitted and “it was confirmed that over 90 per cent of the victims have been settled.”