Following in ethnic clashes between Hausa Fulani migrants and Yoruba in Ile-Ife in Osun State, Afenifere, a pan social-political organisation in Yorubaland has issued a statement condemning the way and manner in which the federal police handled the crisis when it was reported by community leaders and the said “investigations” into the killing which recorded scores of casualties on both sides.
The group says there has been no arrest of any Hausa Fulani person by the federal police and that community leaders who helped in quelling the violence have been arrested and taken to the Force Headquarters in Abuja solely for the purpose of intimidation.
Ile-Ife Crisis:The Hounding After and Yoruba Stand
Leading citizens of Yoruba nation are grieved by the recent disturbance in Ile Ife,the cradle of Yoruba civilization and its aftermath.
We are concerned that lives were lost on our land as it is not in our character to open our land for blood -letting the whole world acknowledges that we welcome foreigners and go the extra mile to make them happy. And which explains why our space is hospitable and allows strangers to prosper and feel at home.
In Ile-Ife in particular, the Arewa community has a record of over 80 years stay in the ancient city and has never come under attacks of any sort not even when there were serious disturbances between the local communities. The Sabo area was a safe place to be in those disturbing days.This is why it is very important to interrogate the cause of the recent disturbance.
We must in this breadth commend our revered monarch of Ile-Ife, His Imperial Majesty Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi,Ojaja II, the Oonirisa for physically going to the scene of conflict to quell the conflict and secure those who were seized in the course of fighting from coming under any harm. That is the Yoruba character.
No foreign person could have walked into the burning scene to save lives the way Kabiyesi did. This vindicates our position that our security would be better provided for when Nigeria learns to localize law enforcement.
Our investigations and eyewitness reports indicate there was a serious provocation which borders on assault on a Yoruba woman by a member of the Arewa community which attracted reaction from the husband of the assaulted woman and his friends around 7-8 pm on the night of 7th of March, 2017.
The Ife traditional authorities alerted the police immediately to step into the matter. The Area Commander, however, failed to act on the community’s request. An Osun State police would have been more responsive if Nigeria were to run a proper federation.
The fight resumed on the morning of 8th. The first casualty was killed by members of Arewa community by the name Busuyi Kayode a.k.a Aperin whose corpse was put in a wheelbarrow. Next was Elijah Balogun who was killed by the stray bullet of SAS policemen with a vehicle marked 109.
The most provocative killing was a vulcanizer whose head was severed. Members of the Arewa started parading his severed head on a stick reminiscent of the Akaluka incident in Kano in 1994. This gory sight provoked a reaction from the local community in which deaths were recorded on both sides.
The Ile-Ife leaders have been worried stiff for some time by recent influx of Fulani people into the town in trailers with some of these strangers identified as Niger Republic immigrants.The apprehension was that many of these elements could be Boko Haram elements.
This provocation and killing in our cradle is a continuation of various assaults and killings by Fulani herdsmen in various Yoruba communities in Yewa area of Ogun State, Oke Ogun in Oyo State, Ekiti communities, and violent abduction of Chief Olu Falae and the killing of his farm hands with the security operatives being of little or no assistance at all.
The latest assault which led to Ife crisis has therefore presented us with an opportunity to resolve this matter of conflict between our people and the Fulani once and for all. We are mainly an agrarian people in spite of our other callings, whose way of life are now being disrupted by people who roam around with cattle destroying our farmlands, attacking our villages, and killing our people.
It is our way of life to send our wives to the farms early in the morning to go and do various kind of harvesting but we can’t do that anymore for fear of their being raped or killed by invaders on our land. Our ways of lives are being violently violated with sheer impunity. We shall not take it anymore.
We therefore demand that the Federal Government should sit with us urgently, and with other nationalities affected and who may be interested in resolving this matter without further delay.
We are equally miffed that security operatives sectionally mobilized have moved to Ife after the incident to carry out one-sided mass arrests of Yoruba people who are mostly notables and could never have participated in any riot.
As at the time of making this statement, all of those so indiscriminately arrested have either been taken to either the state police command in Osogbo or Force Headquarters in Abuja. The people arrested are either community leaders or members of the vigilante who assisted in rescuing members of the Arewa community and took them to either the police or the palace. .
Nobody has been arrested so far on the Arewa side.
The following have been identified among those indiscriminately arrested :
1. Oba Ademola Ademiluyi(Alapoje of Alapoje)
2. Alhaji Yekini Saka (An undergraduate of OAU,Ile-Ife)
3. Oshowade Lukman
4. Adigun Osuolale
5. Eludoyin Francis
6. Sakiru Jimoh
7. Seye Akinyobo
8. Samson Makinde
9. Adelegan Kehinde
10. Isaac Omisanmi
11. Peter Omisope
12. Daniel Olanrewaju
13. Isaac Adefisan
14. Monday Adejumo
15. Dele a.ka D Bamson
We seriously object to a one-sided arrest in a clash between two groups in this undue deployment of federal influence along fault lines.
But we are further disturbed that people who are arrested for an offence allegedly committed in Ile-Ife are being bundled up to Abuja for nothing but sheer intimidation. What information can Abuja gather on a fight in Ile-Ife? Can you charge anybody in an Abuja court for a crime allegedly committed in Ife?
Since the answers to the above questions are in the negative, we demand that all those taken to Abuja should be returned to Osun State immediately.
We call on the governors of Yorubaland to rise up and defend the rights of our people to live peacefully on their land in a secured environment .They cannot afford to fail their people in these terrible times.
We also appeal to the governor of Osun State to ensure that there will be no official prejudging the Ife crisis until proper investigations are conducted.
Finally we wish to commend the words of Sheik Usman dan Fodio to the Nigerian government at this period;
“One of the swiftest ways to destroy a kingdom is to give preference to one particular tribe over another, or to show favour to one group of people rather than another,and to draw near those who should be kept away and keep away those who should be drawn near.”
National Publicity Secretary