Olufemi Atoyebi, Kamarudeen Ogundele, Eniola Akinkuotu, and Toluwani Eniola
A pan-Yoruba group, Oodua People’s Congress, has given the Federal Government and the Nigeria Police Force 48 hours to arrest the Fulani/Hausa persons involved in the crisis in Ile-Ife, Osun State, which resulted in the death of about 46 persons.
The OPC gave the warning in a statement by its founder, Dr. Fredrick Fasehun, on Thursday.
It said, “We hereby call on the Federal Government to intervene within the next 48 hours to ensure that justice is institutionalised and no side is provoked to defend justice according to its whims and caprices. Various communities have Abraham as their father. A word is enough for the wise.”
The group said it was unfortunate that 20 Yoruba persons, including a monarch, were arrested and paraded by the police while not a single Hausa/Fulani belligerent was detained.
The OPC added, “The police and the Federal Government appear determined to make scapegoats of Yoruba living in Ife over this crisis. It is unfortunate, strange and insensitive that two people are fighting and authorities are arresting only one party in this unfortunate mayhem.
“We sympathise with all victims and casualties over this moment of madness that has eroded two centuries of harmonious cohabitation between the Hausa settlers and their Yoruba hosts. But we demand equal treatment of everyone involved on both sides of this crisis.”
The group questioned the role of a former Kano State governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, in the arrest of the 20 persons.
It said Kwankwaso stampeded Governor Rauf Argebesola of Osun State and the Commissioner of Police into the ‘senseless’ arrests.
According to the OPC, Kwankwaso’s role is reminiscent of the role played by President Muhammadu Buhari in the Yoruba/Fulani clash in Ibadan in 2000.
“Kwankwanso’s post-violence role in Ife is akin to that played by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari who in October 2000 travelled to Ibadan to challenge the late governor Lam Adesina over the reprisal on Fulani herdsmen who had unleashed an orgy of raping and killings on Yoruba farming communities.
“This kind of bias will only embolden belligerent Hausa-Fulani throughout Nigeria and give them pariah status amongst other nationalities,” the OPC warned.
The OPC decried the failure of the police and the Federal Government to dislodge Fulani herdsmen who had since 2016 invaded and occupied the Agatu and Oturkpo communities in Benue State and parts of Enugu State.
“Where are those Hausa-Fulani who went on a killing spree in Southern Kaduna, Agatu and Chief Olu Falae’s farm? Are they untouchable? The Federal Government and the police should stop behaving as if Nigeria is the Hausa-Fulani’s conquered territory where they can kill and maim and rape at will,” the OPC.
Also, the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, and the Gani Adams’ faction of the OPC have cautioned the police over the handling of investigation on the crisis in Ile-Ife.
In separate statements, they accused the police of displaying ethnic bias in their investigation, noting that this is not good for the unity of Nigeria and its people.
The governor, who condemned the killing of innocent people and destruction of properties in Ile-Ife, said crime must be treated as crime; “whether committed by Yoruba, Ibo, Hausa or any tribe. However, handling of crime must be without ethnic bias,” he added.
Fayose said it was “strange that in a clash involving the people of Ile-Ife, who are Yoruba and Hausa, who are settlers in the ancient town, only Yoruba were arrested, taken to Abuja and paraded before the press.”
The governor, in a statement issued in Ado Ekiti on Thursday, by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, condemned the mayhem and described the loss of innocent souls as unfortunate.
The statement said, “If there was a clash between Yoruba people and Hausa in Ile-Ife, are the police now saying that only the Yoruba took part in the crisis?
“Both Yoruba and Hausa were attacked. Properties belonging to both Yoruba and Hausa were destroyed. Are the police saying that those 20 Yoruba that they paraded in Abuja were the ones who attacked the Yoruba people that were also victims of the crisis and destroyed those houses belonging to the indigenes of Ile-Ife that were destroyed?
“In my own opinion, the investigation so far conducted by the police was done with ethnic bias and I demand a thorough investigation that is devoid of ethnic sentiments.
“Also, to prevent a recurrence of such crisis, I call on the Osun State Government to set up a judicial panel of inquiry to ascertain the remote and immediate causes of the crisis, as well as identify the masterminds of the crisis.”
Also, the OPC has criticised the Nigeria Police Force for conducting what it described as a subjective investigation into the March 8 crisis in IIe-Ife.
The OPC in a statement by Adams on Thursday, said it wondered why those who triggered the violence had not been paraded by the police.
The group described the entire investigation as “lopsided, highly bias and possesses an element of foundation of injustice.”
Meanwhile, son of the governor of the old Ondo State, Adekunle Ajasin, Tokunbo, has decried Yoruba monarch’s silence after the police paraded only Yoruba people in the aftermath of the crisis between Yoruba and Hausa-Fulani in Ile-Ife.
Ajasin, who spoke in Ibadan on Thursday, is the founder of Atayese Federalist Movement, a Yoruba socio-cultural group.
Ajasin, who chided the police for showing bias against the Yoruba people in the arrest of suspects, said he was shocked and surprised that Yoruba monarchs had not risen to defend their people in the face of persecution. He described the police action as treachery against Yoruba nation.
He added, “…We are surprised that none of our traditional rulers said anything even when one of them was arrested along with the suspects. That is sacrilegious.” (Punchng.com)