The dispute between the two palaces that rule Bwari, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), was renewed with the death of the Sarkin Bwari, Alhaji Musa Muhammad Ijakoro, on the August 29, after a prolonged illness.
The contending houses are Sarki of Koro extraction and that of the Esu of Bwari of Gbagyi origin. However, the Sarki position doubles as the Vice Chairman of the Federal Capital Territory Traditional Council.
The late Sarki Ijakoro who had been on the position since 1972, was officially turbaned District Head of Bwari in 1976 and was the first traditional ruler to be given a staff of office in the FCT.
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that friction began since July 1997 when the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) under the then minister, General Jeremiah Useni, elevated Sarki Ijakoro, to the position of the second class status.
The development did not go well with the Gbagyis, who have majority in the chiefdom’s council of kingmakers, following the separation of the area from Suleja Emirate in Niger State.
The Sarki’s stool was said to have begun from 1902 with the appointment of Ma’aji Ali from the Suleja Emirate where parts of Abuja’s land was carved out from. According to one of the title holders from the Sarki’s side, who is the Santali of Bwari, Alhaji Yunusa Mamman, two other chiefs were on the throne before the late Ijakoro took over in 1972, following his endorsement by the then united single kingmakers.
Following the Gbagy’s complaints and confrontation over the elevation of the Sarki’s stool to a second class status, the FCT administration then elevated the Esu’s stool to a third class position with the aim of calming the tension.
However, while the Esu is also recognized as the District Head of Bwari, the Sarki continues to hold the position of the traditional head of the entire chiefdom. It has additional villages apart from Bwari town, the headquarters of the chiefdom. Though, presently, majority of the village heads have shifted their loyalty to the Esu instead to the Sarki.
But, Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that even before now, the two palaces owned their separate kingmakers, with each awarding same traditional title to personalities loyal to it.
With the demise of the Sarki Ijakoro, both sides have renewed their claim as authentic occupiers of the traditional stool that has defied intervention by previous FCT administrations. The Esu Bwari, Ibrahim Yaro, said Bwari town was established by his kinsmen back in the 17th Century, following their migration from Zaria in Kaduna State, when they arrived for hunting.
The Esu further explained that, even the town’s name “Bwari” was originally known as “Baya” meaning pound yam here, but only to be corrupted later by some Hausa traders following their influx into the area. The Esu also said that his community would do everything possible to claim the whole chiefdom.
According to him, “what happened in the past was under military administration and such thing could not be allowed to take place under a democratic government.”
He added that: “We have since made our position known to the FCT minister and we are in the belief that the FCTA would do the best under this government.”
In the course of the struggle, the side of Esu, succeeded in rallying majority of the village heads under the Bwari chiefdom along with all its kingmakers penultimate Friday, where they made a call for abolition of the Sarki stool at a press conference. Besides, some Gbagyi youths also organised a rally warning against any decision to the contrary.
But on the other hand, the kingmakers under the Sarki palace had since received the name of Alhaj Auwal Musa Ijakoro, one of the sons to the late Ijakoro, to succeed his father. Alhaji Auwal holds the position of Chiroman Bwari. It was further gathered that their decision was endorsed by the kingmakers and they have since presented his name to the FCT minister for final approval.
Speaking on the position of the Esu chiefdom, one of the sons of the late Ijakoro, Alhaji Abubakar Musa Jakoro, who is the Makaman Bwari, said the Sarki stool has been in existence before independence and wondered why some people would seek for its abolition now, without any law to support the action.
Furthermore, he claimed that: “when it was being decided that Abuja will be the new Federal Capital, the government had presented two options to all FCT chiefs, to either remain within their chiefdoms as chiefs, or leave to neighbouring states where their chiefdoms originated from, and be made chiefs there with other compensation.
“While my father whose origin was from Ija-Koro town which is now in Tafa Local Government Area of Niger State, chose to remain here as the Chief of Bwari and as a result didn’t benefit from any compensation, the father of the present Esu chose to leave to his area of origin and was compensated. He resettled to an area now known as New-Bwari, also in Tafa Local Government Area,” he stated.
“And following their previous rejection, some kingmakers from the Esu palace have took the matter to the court and didn’t get their prayers. I wonder why they want to bring back the issue now, the Makama said.
However, the FCT administration is yet to make its position known on the matter, three weeks since the demise of Sarki Ijakoro.