I am still in the land of shock over the unfolding handling of the recent crisis that erupted in the ancient city of Ile-Ife between the Hausa/Fulani and their Yoruba hosts, in which several lives were reportedly lost. Of more shock is the speed at which the violence, originating from a mere altercation between a man and a woman in Ile-Ife degenerated so fast into a full scale war.
My shock is galvanised by the fact that Ile-ife is still in the process of recuperating from the clashes of the past. The fact that the traditional monarch and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the Ojaja 1, initiated a peace agenda that formed a soothing balm for the frayed nerves, to me, was a lee way to a peaceful resolution of the unwarranted bloodletting. Such move by the traditional ruler, to me, promised hope and the rebuilding of trust.
The abrupt clash took us back several years and I think the way to rebuild is by treading the path of justice and neutrality.
But the arrests that followed the mayhem have not demonstrated that government is not deliberately taking side in this case of ‘two fighting’ that is now being seemingly portrayed as ‘one fighting with himself’.
It beats my imagination that a government that has been playing lip service to the lingering bloodletting going on in Southern Kaduna, suddenly woke up from its slumber when the pendulum swings Westwards to begin a wanton illegal arrest of Ife indigenes and leaving out the Hausa/Fulani that joined them to cause the fracas.
The police recently paraded 21 suspects that were arrested in the aftermath of the crisis and to my chagrin, all of them are Yoruba. This leaves a question mark as to why no Hausa/Fulani was arrested, even as reports indicated that it was one of the Hausa/Fulani, residing in the Sabo area of the ancient city that sparked up the crisis. Infact, Yoruba recorded the first three casualties before the crisis went full scale.
In the light of the foregoing, I join other Yoruba leaders and some prominent Nigerians to condemn the police for its one-sided parade of Ile-Ife residents over the recent clash between the Yoruba and Hausa communities in the ancient city. I make bold to say that the arrest, as being skewed by the police, is a display of huge tribalism
On behalf of my organisations, the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) and the Oodua Progressive Union, (OPU), I hereby state our serious objection to a one-sided arrest in a clash between two ethnic groups. We detest, in strong terms the undue deployment of federal influence along fault lines on the Ile-Ife crisis.
We also suspect foul play as well as favouritism that those who were arrested for an offence allegedly committed in Ife were being bundled up to Abuja for nothing but sheer intimidation. We know it is not right, by law, to charge anybody in Abuja for a crime allegedly committed in Ife.
We believe that issues that are capable of conflagrating this country must be avoided with a passion. Parading some people and saying they are culprits has severe tribal linkages with dire consequences. We cannot afford that at this point in time.
Anything tribally oriented is not good, especially when you parade only Yoruba and leave out the Hausa/Fulani that engaged in the fight with them.
We are like sitting on some keg of gunpowder. Politically, the action taken so far is not wise. And I want to appeal to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) that parading one tribe is not sensible. People would read whatever meaning. The interpretation would go beyond the level we can control. The action is not palatable because Nigeria is a heterogeneous state.
It is not too late to correct the trend. This is very imperative as we are not going to fold our arms to see our land being overthrown from us. We cannot play the role of second fiddle in this case of palpable altercation involving two ethnic groups.
What happened in Ile-Ife was an altercation that involved Yoruba and Hausa. Yoruba alone cannot bear the brunt. The police is fanning the ember of a serious ethnic strife which the federal government has to make quick moves to curtail.
While believing that the government will do the needful to find a middle way approach that would assuage bruised hearts, we call on Yoruba and indeed Ife indigenes to remain calm and law abiding while the peace move is on-going.
Yoruba remains a very formidable nation. We refuse to be a conquered nation
Otunba (Dr) Gani Adams