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How renewed KAROTA fury hurts Kano road users

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By Mukhtar Yahya Usman

On 8 September, 2019, just like any ordinary day, Yusuf Baba had left his pregnant wife and five children at home.

As he rode on his motorcycle on his way to the Kano Sports Commission along Club Road in Nasarawa local government area of Kano state, where he served as a weightlifting coach, it never crossed his mind that it was his last day on earth.

Mr Baba was just a few meters to his destination when, without warning, a dark blue Volkswagen saloon car, swerved to his side of the road on top speed and crushed him to death.

An eyewitness told Kano Focus that the commercial vehicle, with registration number KTG 174 AA, had the accident due to a nasty struggle for control of its steering wheel between its driver and a personnel of the Kano Road Traffic Agency (KAROTA), who was determined to stop the driver from fleeing.

This was how Mr Baba’s wife, Zainab was widowed and his five children orphaned in one of the several reckless confrontations between overzealous KAROTA officers and road users that often disregard traffic rules.

It was one death too many for the family as Mr Baba left behind a mentally disabled son, Umar, who relied totally on his father for his monthly follow up at a psychiatric hospital in Kano, where he receives expensive medications.

In addition, Zainab’s unborn child has also been deprived of its father.

Both the KAROTA officer and the driver of the Golf car were subsequently arrested and detained by the Kano Police Command.

About a week earlier, some KAROTA officials had also flagged down a trailer truck at Ibrahim Taiwo Road by Bello Road roundabout and attempted to arrest the driver on a charge of unlawfully using additional headlamps.

It was learnt that the KAROTA personnel ordered the driver, Kabiru Muhammad to park but before he could comply, one of them reportedly requested to drive the truck, a demand the driver refused.

Truck driver Kabiru Muhammad covered in blood

Without warning, the angry traffic official insulted Mr Muhammad just as another hit him on the head with a stick, causing him a serious injury from which blood gushed out and covered his face and clothing.

In protest at the maltreatment of their colleague, other truck drivers turned off their engines in the middle of the road, causing a massive traffic gridlock that was only cleared after the arrival of police operatives who arrested the errant KAROTA officials.

Truck drivers protest the assault on their colleague Kabiru Muhamma by KAROTA

On August 15, 2019, a magistrate court sentenced a KAROTA official to jail after he was found guilty of hitting one Hassan Zamzam with a stick in the leg and inflicting a fracture on him.

The victim was attacked by the angry KAROTA officer for allegedly beating traffic.

Kano Focus reports that the air waves in Kano are replete with complaints on excesses of KAROTA officers on the roads, especially their act of carrying sticks which they routinely use to smash heads and windshields of motorists, tricycle riders and other vehicle owners who dared to cross paths with them.

The renewed vigour of KAROTA officials in assaulting motorists manifested since the appointment of the agency’s new Managing Director, Bappa Babba DanAgundi, a former lawmaker at the Kano state House of Assembly, who failed in his re-election bid during the 2019 general elections.

It was under Mr DanAgundi’s leadership that KAROTA operatives started using sticks that are painted in the yellow and black colours of the agency to assault motorists and other road users who violate traffic rules.

Commercial drivers often complain of being extorted and forced to pay exorbitant fines, which are higher than those charged by any of the federal agencies that supervise road safety.

A KAROTA personnel trying to arrest a truck driver

As a result, many commercial motorists have stopped transporting traders to Kano, causing a sharp decline in commerce and trade, a situation that threatens the economic prosperity of the state.

Since it was established in 2014 by former Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, KAROTA has been a fiery traffic outfit that attracts anger and hatred due to its persistent clashes with motorists in the course of enforcing traffic rules.

Even though it has succeeded in restoring sanity and instilling discipline in Kano’s erstwhile lawless motorists, recently, the agency has been accused of contradicting its own motto: “Sanity and Safety” by chasing moving vehicles to the point of causing accidents and in some cases leading to serious injuries or outright loss of lives.

Observers have also pointed out that while KAROTA is harsh on poor and weak road users especially commercial vehicle owners who are struggling to make ends meet, they often fail to punish powerful politicians and security agencies who move in convoys and break traffic rules with impunity.

“This leaves us with no option that to believe that the rules are meant to punish only the weak and the poor and also serve as a means of extorting and further impoverishing them, while allowing the rich and powerful to do as they please,” a driver Garba Adamu told our correspondent.

“The government should overhaul KAROTA in order to make them more humane in their operations,” he added.

However, in his reaction, the KAROTA Managing director Bappa Babban Danagundi has explained why personnel of the agency carry sticks on the roads while controlling traffic in Kano city.

Dan-Agundi said KAROTA officers are using sticks to protect themselves from attacks by angry motorists and other road users who are not happy with how the traffic officials conduct their duty.

He said many KAROTA personnel have been attacked by errant motorists, adding that some of them are still in hospital with fractures and other serious injuries.

Although Dr. Dan-Agundi admitted that using weapons is against the laws of KAROTA, he however, pointed that the Nigerian Constitution has given citizens the right to defend themselves from harm including government officials.

He also said that apart from restoring sanity on Kano roads, KAROTA officials have been commended by security agencies for arresting a fake soldier and handing him over to the appropriate authority for prosecution.

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Bappah Idris appointed registrar of Dental Technologists Registration Board

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Mukhtar Yahya Usman

The federal government has approved the appointment of Bappah Ahmed Idris as the new Registrar, Dental Technologists Registration Board of Nigeria (DTRBN).

This was revealed in statement signed by the spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of Health, Eunice Akro, on Thursday.

Mr Idris’ appointment letter was signed by the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora.

Congratulating Mr Idris, Mr Mamora reminded him of “the enormous responsibilities of his office and the expectations of the Government and Nigerians from him towards achieving efficient regulatory functions of the Board”.

Mr Idris, was until his appointment, a Chief Dental Technologist at the Dental and Maxillofacial department of Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH).

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Hisbah, village head to pay N300,000 for arresting man over ‘strange’ Islam practice

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Mukhtar Yahya Usman

A federal high court sitting in Kano under Justice A. O. Aguata has ordered the Kano State Hisbah Command to pay a sum of N300,000 to one Yunusa Hamza for denying him his right to practice Islam the way he understands it.

KANO FOCUS reports that Mr Hamza, had filed a case before the federal high court in Kano, accusing the Hisbah command, his in-laws and the village head of Utai in Wudil local government area of the state, of “trying to teach him religion.”

Mr Hamza, through his counsel Barrister Sale Idris Bello, maintained that the respondents have no right to stop him from practicing his religion the way he perceives it.

It was learnt that Mr Hamza was arrested by personnel of the Hisbah command for allegedly performing only on raka’a (unit) of prayer and prostrating once in each of his five daily prayers.

He had also reportedly ordered his wife to perform her prayers in the same awkward way.

But Mr Hamza’s in-laws intervened and stopped his wife from practicing her husband’s version of religion, and reported him to the village head of Utai.

The plaintiff was said to have been handed over to the police who also handed him over to the Hisbah command in Wudil.

Mr Hamza alleged that he was later transferred to the Hisbah command headquarters in Kano city, where he was allegedly tortured, adding that this was the reason he filed a case in court to seek redress.

In his ruling, Justice Aguata ordered the Kano Hisbah command, its commander, and the village head of Utai to pay the plaintiff  a sum of N300,000 as fine for trying to deny him his right of religion.

Mr Hamza had prayed the court to force the defendants to pay him N5 million as compensation, alleging torture.

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Kano Council of Ulama rejects Ganduje’s Almajiri ban

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Sheikh Ibrahim Khalil

Nasiru Yusuf

The Kano State Council of Ulama has rejected Governor Abdullahi Ganduje’s decision to proscribe child beggars popularly known as almajirai  from roaming the streets across the state to beg for alms.

Mr Ganduje, who announced the ban on Tuesday  also threatened to arrest and prosecute any parent that allows their children to roam the streets.

The governor warned that henceforth any teacher with pupils under the Almajiri school arrangement must accept the new approach put in place by the state government, explaining that, “if you think you cannot accept that then you leave the state.”

“When beggars are caught, it is not only that beggar is caught, but his parents or guardians. Such parents or guardians would be taken to court for disrespecting our laws,” Mr Ganduje said.

‘Not serious’

However, in an interview with KANO FOCUS on Wednesday, Chairman of the Ulama Council, Sheikh Ibrahim Khalil said the ban on almajirai  “is not feasible and the government is not serious”.

According to him, necessary steps towards curtailing the practice have not been taken or put in place before taking the decision.

“To us at the Council of Ulama, the government can not do it and is not serious about it. They are just doing it to appease their masters abroad, or get their money or some kind of noise making.

“Or they might have been accused of something from somewhere for which they simply organise a ceremony and that is all. That is our opinion” he said.

Different type of beggars

Sheikh Khalil, a renowned Islamic scholar, who had advocated against street begging gave a brief history of efforts made in the past to curtail the menace but failed “because serious and necessary measures were not taken.”

He  said the real street beggars should be identified.

“The right steps to follow in banning street begging include: the Quranic clerics involved have to be identified because there are street beggars who are Quranic students.

“And there are beggars who were sent by their parents from the rural areas to come and be begging in the urban areas, there is also another form of begging by some physically challenged individuals.

“All these forms of street beggars need to be identified and each one addressed accordingly. But they have not done that.

“So, for the ban to work, there has to be a cooperation between the government and the Quranic clerics. You have to sit with them and understand why they engage in begging, get some statistics, know the total number of those engaging in street begging among them.

“If you identify all these, it is then that you will come to know exactly beggars that are not Almajiris Quranic students,” Sheikh Khalil explained.

‘Join hands with neighbouring states’

The cleric also observed that Kano state cannot unilaterally end street begging without collaborating with neighboring states.

“More so, you can not stop begging in the state without joining hands with the neighbouring states.

“If you recall, there was the case of a man who sent three of his children to the city to be begging for sustenance because he wanted to place his new wife in the room they were occupying.

“You can see that these kids are not necessarily Almajiris or Quranic pupils.

“Therefore, you need statistics of the real situation, know the total number of the Quranic teachers, the total number of the Quranic schools and their pupils, know exactly who the real Almajiris are first.

“You will then know their needs understand their problems and then proffer the right solutions. “You can decide to cater for them or send them back to their homes. But you have not conducted all these,” he advised.

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