A group in northern Nigeria, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum has alleged that there is a “gang-up to harass and intimidate the courts and the police from investigating and punishing those found guilty” over the recent Ile-Ife killings in South West Nigeria. It also cautioned Afenifere and other stakeholders in the South West to avoid provoking reprisal attacks by not perverting the course of justice.
A statement issued by the national president, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Alhaji Yerima Shettima on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 said “We take exception to those marauders who are hiding behind ethnic umbrella and are desperately trying to pervert the course of justice.”
“We are cautioning them to tread carefully so that their latest action would not provoke reprisal attacks, because this is an important period in the history of this nation, when all compatriots are working hard to address the multiple challenges confronting the nation, economically, politically and socially,” the Shettima said further.
The statement reads thus in full: “That a clash had occurred on 8th March 2017 in Ile-Ife between Yoruba residents and their Northern Hausa neighbors is no longer news, but the gang-up to harass and intimidate the courts and the police from investigating and punishing those found guilty so that a repeat of this sad episode would be avoided. In view of what is happening at the moment, we wish to submit as follows:
“We take exception to those marauders who are hiding behind ethnic umbrella and are desperately trying to pervert the course of justice. We are cautioning them to tread carefully so that their latest action would not provoke reprisal attacks, because this is an important period in the history of this nation, when all compatriots are working hard to address the multiple challenges confronting the nation, economically, politically and socially.
“We would like to remind the Afenifere group that the people of the North have displayed maturity by not going after the millions of Yoruba citizens doing business in the region. This is a demonstration of respect for the rule of law and not cowardice. We are aware that no one has the monopoly of violence or creating hot-air balloons in order to cover up an organized attack on people doing legitimate business in any party of our country. We watched with dismay, how the Afenifere is beginning to fan the embers of hatred against the victims and creating heroes out of the attackers. This amounts to a subtle ethnic cleansing campaign and we wish to warn Afenifere and its paymasters to shun such a dangerous act.
“It was unfortunate that a few loquacious Yoruba sons have joined the bandwagon by shouting to the roof tops, in a calculated attempt to dissuade the courts and law enforcement agencies from doing the needful. For the records, one-time vice presidential candidate in the 2007 elections, Pastor Tunde Bakare has launched a negative campaign against the Nigerian police for detecting and carrying out the arrest of prime suspects in the clash. Other tribal champions include Femi Fani-Kayode; and the Yoruba Youth Council (YYC), which bought airtime on Channels TV, just to condemn the arrest of the suspects.
“Let the Afenifere and their fellow collaborators in this massive cover-up campaign bear in mind that we, the Northerners, are watching and if we were not law-abiding, we would have followed the same path of ethnic antagonism and defending the indefensible. We can only stress that this is a crucial moment in the history of this nation and the most important thing is how to move forward in all spheres by shunning acts capable of breeding large-scale violence in the North in the name of reprisal attacks.
“To make matters worse, it is in the news that Afenifere has hired 8 SANS who have now bombarded Abuja High Court in a desperate move to interfere with the legal processes that would address the case of 20 prime suspects paraded by the police. This is unacceptable and the Nigerian law knows no sacred cows, whoever breaks the law must be made to face the consequences of his deeds, no matter how highly placed. No amount of media propaganda should be allowed to make the innocent people killed in Ile-Ife to look like sacrificial lambs.
“We urge the Nigerian judiciary to let justice take its full course and ignore the ranting of tribal jingoists, masquerading as champions of ethnic cleansing agenda. It is now evident that Afenifere has openly endorsed the killings, especially as they were all quiet when the killings were going on and shamelessly came out after the arrests by security agents have been made. Let this be last time anyone would be shielded for killing fellow citizens in the name of ethnic or tribal agenda. We have had enough of this rubbish. “