Bala Yargaba, the chairman of Dutse Local Government Area of Jigawa State, has accused a political opponent of instigating a mob action against him.
Mr Yargaba was attacked by scores of residents in his LGA on Monday morning over claims that funds earmarked for the development of polling units have not been disbursed to beneficiaries several weeks later.
Residents on Monday accused Mr. Yargaba of fraud and demanded that he should authorise immediate disburse of the funds, which was sent to all local government areas by the state governor, Badaru Abubakar.
The LGA boss, who was on his way out when he was intercepted by the residents, said he did not know that the funds had been paid, an explanation the residents found suspicious and consequently descended on him.
They immediately cordoned the LGA secretariat and held the chairman hostage, in defiance of security operatives present at the scene. During the standoff, Mr Yargaba’s cloth (agbada) was shred into pieces, with remnant shared into pieces and distributed widely amongst the protesters. He eventually escaped into the council secretariat which was then surrounded by the protesters.
One of the protesters, Adamu Jaudi, said Mr Yargaba changed the original list of the intended beneficiaries and smuggled in only those loyal to him.
Security operatives later intervened and broke off the fracas. Some soldiers on patrol around the area also stopped at the scene to help contain the situation. They were met with protesters chanting different slogans.
The Jigawa police spokesperson, Audu Jinjiri, declined comments, saying he had not been briefed about the development.
Mr Yargaba later denied the allegations and blamed Musa Sule, a member of Jigawa House of Assembly from Dutse, of plotting the attack against him.
He said it was Mr Sule who doctored the original list of the intended beneficiaries by putting the names of his loyalties after the list was sent to the House of Assembly for approval.
Mr Sule, however, pushed back against the allegations, saying it was illogical to accuse him of trying to truncate a bill he helped push through as a lawmaker.
“We initiated the re-introduction of the polling unit development fund and as lawmakers, I can’t be the one to spoil the process,” Mr Sule said. “The council chairman was the one who announced on radio that all beneficiaries should assemble on Monday to collect their share of the money. Unfortunately for him, the event turned out to be violent.”
Although Mr. Sule and Yargaba hail from Dutse constituency and are members of the ruling All progress Congress, the duo had been at each other’s throats amidst unclear disagreements.
The House of Assembly approved the polling units development fund in February, and Mr Abubakar swiftly signed it into law. The fund was aimed at tackling emergency needs of communities, including the installation of borehole for potable water, drainage maintenance, amongst other local projects.
The money is distributed at N50,000 per polling unit per month, and the payout could be as high as N150,000 for some polling units, depending on the availability of funds, state officials said.
President Muhammadu Buhari flagged off commencement of disbursement when he visited the state in May.