From a daring terror attack on a moving train to commencement of oil drilling, the year 2022 will be remembered in Northern Nigeria for some key events and developments.
Here are some of the stories from the region that stood out in 2022:
1. Terrorists attack Abuja-Kaduna train
Terrorists, loosely called bandits by residents, have been reigning in the North-west and parts of the North-central regions of Nigeria for over a decade but the attack on a moving train was unprecedented in Nigeria’s history.
With federal, state and local highways endangered, many people going to Abuja from Kaduna had found solace in the new railway linking the old headquarters of the Northern Region to the federal capital city of Abuja, until the attack in the evening of 28 March. At least eight people died in the attack in which dozens of passengers were abducted by the attackers.
Those abducted were released in batches over several months after payment of ransom by their relatives, until negotiations between a Chief of Defence Staff committee and the terrorists saw to the release of the others.
The terrorists intermittently released video footages and pictures as proof that the captives were alive. Protests after protests were held by members of the captives’ families just as top government officials repeatedly visited the scene of the attack.
2. Tukur Mamu: Negotiator in hot soup
Another fallout of the train attack was the involvement of a journalist, Tukur Mamu, as a negotiator. The publisher of the Desert Herald, however, transformed from negotiator to a suspect after he was arrested by security agents in Dubai and brought back to Nigeria.
The State Security Service insisted Mr Mamu had questions to answer after various “exhibits” were discovered during a search of his residence. Mr Mamu said he had committed no crime despite his detention. Charges filed by the state against Mr Mamu were later withdrawn.
3. Oil drilling
Many people from Northern Nigeria expressed joy when in November President Muhammadu Buhari flagged off the first oil drilling project in the region. The authorities had announced that crude oil had been discovered in commercial quantities in Gombe and Bauchi states in the North-east.
“This is indeed significant considering that efforts to find commercial oil and gas outside the established Niger Delta Basin were attempted for many years without the desired outcomes,” Mr Buhari said.
“This discovery had emanated from our charge to the NNPC to re-strategize and expand its oil and gas exploration footprints to the frontier basins of Anambra, Dahomey, Sokoto, Benue trough, Chad and Bida Basins. Similar activities across the other basins are currently actively ongoing.”
4. Turbaning of terrorist
PREMIUM TIMES exclusively reported the plan by Yandoton Daji Emirate Council of Zamfara State to turban a notorious banditry kingpin, Ado Aleru, as the Sarkin Fulanin Yandoto. The council said it was part of its efforts to return peace to the area.
The coronation was witnessed by top Zamfara government officials and monarchs. However, following a nationwide backlash, the state government suspended the emir, Aliyu Marafa, and asked a committee to investigate the development. Nothing has been heard of the committee’s findings and Mr Aleru, who still terrorises motorists and communities, is still holding his traditional title.
Like many other parts of the country, Northern NIgeria experienced devastating floods that wreaked havoc on farmlands, roads, houses and schools. From Kogi and Bauchi to Yobe, Jigawa, Kano and Adamawa, Taraba, Benue and Sokoto in the three zones of the region, it was tales of loss of lives, farm produce and property.
PREMIUM TIMESvisited Jigawa, Kano, Kogi, Adamawa, Bauchi and Yobe where farmers reported loss of farm produce and farmlands valued at millions of naira. Hundred of households were also destroyed, which displaced several residents becoming displaced and left them taking refuge in primary and secondary schools.
6. Lynching of Deborah
Another sad incident from the North during the year that attracted attention across Nigeria and in the international community was the killing of a student in Sokoto for alleged blasphemy.
Deborah Samuel, a Christian, was stoned to death and set on fire by thugs and some Muslim students of Shehu Shagari College of Education. The arrest of her murderers led to riots in the state capital. This came after the police announced the arrest and arraignment of some youths suspected to be involved in the killing.
The Sokoto Sultanate was hit by the death of two of its most illustrious and influential sons. First was the senior/head of kingmakers, Hassan Danbaba who died in February. Mr Danbaba’s grandfather, Ahmadu Bello, the first and only Premier of the Northern region, vied for the position of Sultan in 1938. He was a descendant of the great Islamic scholar and jihadist, Usman Bin Fodio.
The Sultanate was also hit in December when Sarkin Sudan, Shehu Malami, another influential prince, who was seen as the current Sultan’s Sa’ad Abubakar’s Mr Fix it, died in Cairo, Egypt.
Mr Malami, who was from the Bello ruling house, was Nigeria’s High Commissioner to South Africa and a member of the International Advisory Council of the World Economic Forum Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland.
He was one of the founders of Ecobank, former Chairman of Union Bank, Director, Standard Chartered Bank and former Chairman of Costain West Africa.
Another eminent Northerner who died in 2022 was Bashir Tofa, the presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention in the annulled 12 June, 1993 election.
A renowned Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Bamba, also died in the year. He was the chief imam of Darul Hadith Mosque in Tudun Yola, Gwale Local Government Area of Kano.
He presided over weekly lectures, Saturday and Sunday, which attracted thousands of in-person listeners and live streamers across Hausa speaking Northern Nigeria.
On the political front, the Zamfara State deputy governor, Mahadi Aliyu, who refused to decamp with the governor to the All Progressive Congress (APC) from the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, was impeached by the state House of Assembly.
The intrigues leading to the impeachment were documented here by PREMIUM TIMES.
The lawmakers insisted they followed due process in carrying out the impeachment but Mr Aliyu said he was victimised for not following Governor Bello Matawalle and the lawmakers to defect to the APC.
9. Abba Kyari
Another Northerner who was in the news in the year was Abba Kyari, who had gained celebrity status for crime busting. While trying to avoid extradiction to the United States where he was named for allegedly conniving with fraudster Ramon Azeez (Hushpuppi), Mr Kyari was named in another big scandal.
Mr Kyari was arrested and handed over to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency NDLEA for alleged drug trafficking.
10. Ahmed Idris
Another Northerner smeared with corruption charges is the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, who has been suspended and is being investigated for alleged stealing of at least N80 billion public funds.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in a statement by its spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said, “Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday, May 16, 202,2 arrested serving Accountant General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris in connection with diversion of funds and money laundering activities to the tune of N80billion( Eighty Billion Naira only).
“The Commission’s verified intelligence showed that the AGF raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates.
“The funds were laundered through real estate investments in Kano and Abuja.
“Mr Idris was arrested after failing to honour invitations by the EFCC to respond to issues connected to the fraudulent acts.”
11. Kogi – Dangote drama
In October, the Kogi State Government sealed a Dangote Cement factory in Obajana after it alleged that the factory was improperly acquired by the Dangote Industries Limited, owned by the richest black person in the world, Aliko Dangote.
Dangote Industries Limited denied the allegation and alleged that some of its staff were harmed when the factory was invaded by agents of the state government.
President Muhammadu Buhari intervened to secure the reopening of the factory but the warring parties have taken the matter to court.