By Tom Garba, Yola – Nigeria’s first UNESCO’s World Heritage site in Sukur, Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa has been destroyed by Boko Haram.
The Director General of Adamawa State Museum and Monuments Commission, Saidu Audu who disclosed this to newsmen in Yola, said the site was the first UNESCO World Heritage site in Nigeria to be officially listed by UNESCO.
According to Mr. Audu, “Sukur World Cultural Heritage ” in Madagali Local Govt Area of Adamawa was destroyed by Boko Haram insurgent in 2014.
Mr. Audu further said the Sukur cultural landscape is located on Mandara mountains in Madagali local government area of Adamawa along Nigeria/ Cameroon border.
He explained that the Sukur site is a hilltop settlement and about 290 km from Yola, the Adamawa state capital standing at an elevation of 1,045 meter above sea level.
The site, according to the Director General, was National Monument as determined by the Joint Instrument of Federal Government of Nigeria Decree No. 77 of 1979 and act cap.242 of 2000.
Mr. Audu said that the site was attacked and burnt in September 2014 when Boko Haram invaded Madagali LGA.
“Sukur ancient Iron smelting heritage is the first Nigerian landmark to be listed on the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO at one of its International Conference held in Marekkesh, Morocco in 1999
“While, Osogbo Grove in Osun made the second list later in 2005 by the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO).
He listed four modern research and international conference centers and VIP accommodations and others as among structures at the site destroyed completely by Boko Haram.
He noted that as part of the state government’s commitment about N65 million naira was earmarked for upgrading and expansion of the site in 2012.
According to the Director General, state government was making effort in collaboration with the federal government to reconstruct the site.
“Our doors are open for support from National and International Cultural and heritages organizations to rebuild the site,” Mr. Audu added.
Chairman, Madagali LGA, Yusuf Muhammed, who confirmed the incident said the site was the first international tourist centre in Nigeria.
Mr. Muhammed said the site was now shut down since the attack in September 2014, adding that despite the insecurity challenges, the Sukur annual cultural festival was carried out in February 2017 in the area.
He regretted that before the advent of Boko Haram the site was considered the biggest international tourism centre in Nigeria and the only Africa’s first cultural landscape.
Mr. Muhammed further explained that before, the attack, significant number of foreign tourists from Europe, Asia and America including diplomats in Nigeria visited the site on daily basis.
According to the chairman, the site is once centre where researchers in and outside Nigeria visit for their research activities.
“Government and the inhabitants used to generate a lot of money from tourists and other visitors,” Mr. Muhammed added, lamenting that during the attacks inhabitants of the area who were the custodian of the site were killed by insurgents while several houses were touched.
He appealed to relevant national and international donors to join hands with the government to re-develop the site and rescue it from collapse.