The morning of Wednesday April 29, 2020 saw the exhibition of the lowest form of humanity at the Igwe’s Palace in Sabon Gari, Kano State. It saw the outpour of curses on the seating factional traditional leader of the Igbos in Kano by widows and the downtrodden who had assembled at the Igwe’s palace to collect their share of palliatives being shared by the federal government. This was followed by gunshots fired by mobile police officers standing guard at the Igwe place. The gunshots were aimed at dispersing the widows and other subjects of the Monarch.
According to information made available to 247ureports.com through a consortium of eyewitness sources, the traditional leader of Igbo’s in Kano State, HRH Boniface Ibekwe confiscated the palliatives distributed by the federal government and shared it amongst his friends and associates.
Particularly, the items which comprised of bags of rice and groundnut oil were brought into the palace of the Monarch at Freetown in Sabon Gari using a fully loaded trailer. The contents of the trailer was off loaded inside the palace – a gated residence.
The palliatives were to be shared according to a previously stipulated guidelines. They were to be distributed to the most financially disadvantaged segment of the population.
However, the Igwe Boniface Ibekwe took a different approach. He opted to use the palliative as a personal affair for his friends and political associates.
A widow who hails from Udi in Enugu State was present at the scene. She spoke to 247ureports.com of her experience. She indicated that many people were gathered at the gate of the palace awaiting for the sharing to commence. “We were standing peacefully. We arranged ourselves in order”. But the sharing began in another form. She said.
“People were just coming in black Prado Jeep with tinted windows wearing red caps”, said the widow as she described the type of personalities that were showing up to the palace to collect the bags of rice. “The red cap people with come and they will load a bag of rice and a tin of groundnut oil into his Prado”. While the Prado Jeeps were being loaded with the supposed palliatives, the widows and other downtrodden members of the Igbo communities that had assembled at the gate of the palace were not given any attention.
Another source, a youth who hails from Awka in Anambra State and lives by Ibadan road inside Sabon Gari shared similar tale with 247ureports.com. He said the Igwe shared the palliatives to all the Igbo politicians in Kano State and not to the people deserving of the items. According to him, the youths were annoyed by the manner the Igwe was selectively distributing the items that they became rowdy and audible angry.
He recalls that “a lady dressed in red drove into the compound in her black Prado Jeep. Six bags of rice and four tins of groundnut oil were immediately loaded into her Jeep”. But the youths were not having it. They immediately blocked the Prado Jeep shortly after it existed the palace and requested that she off-load the contents of the vehicle. “She did”. And, the youths took the rice and oil shared to the widows and other women.
After sharing of the six bags to the women, the youth developed gravitas and decided to crash the gate and disrupt the perceived injustice. As they approached the gates, Igwe Boniface Ibekwe who was witnessing and/or supervising the rice distribution, ordered for the mobile police officers to disperse the youths and the women. In the process, the Police fired numerous gunshots. And it resulted in a stampede.
A woman was injured. She broke her waist. She was pushed to the ground amidst the rush and stepped on. She told 247ureports.com that she only came for rice to feed her children. “Nothing more. I did not come to wound myself. It will not be good for Boniface Ibekwe”.
Many more were injured in the small stampede. “None of us gathered at the palace were given any palliatives”.
Igwe Boniface Ibekwe was reached on the phone concerning the incident and why he distributed the palliatives to his friends and associates, he replied that he was not aware and that he does not want to comment. “I am not aware. I don’t want to talk anything”.
It can be remembered that Igwe Boniface Ibekwe became the traditional ruler of Igbos in Kano State under controversial circumstances. It was reported his accession to the seat was marred bribery and imposition from the then Government of Kano State. He was not the choice of the Igbos in Kano. Rather, he was the choice of the then State Government of Kano State.
The Igbos had preferred and chosen Chief Chiejina Nnaji over Boniface Ibekwe – who was then a struggling contractor and a resource person to the then state government. Both persons were in court litigating over the right to hold the seat of the Monarch. Nnaji later died. Following the death of Nnaji, Chief Ikechukwu Akpudo took over as the factional Igwe of Igbos in Kano.