By Yekeen Nurudeen
Tension is rising in the South-West over the way the Police and other security agencies have handled the ethnic clash between some members of Hausa Community and Yoruba in Ile-Ife, Osun state on March 7, 2017.
Yoruba socio-cultural and political groups as well as leaders from the region are already threatening fire and brimstones over the arrest of suspects involved in the clash arguing that the arrest by the Police was one sided.
The Police had on Tuesday in Abuja paraded 20 suspects of Yoruba extraction arrested in respect of the clash in which 46 persons were killed and 96 others wounded.
A Yoruba cultural group, Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, has issued a warning to the Federal Government and the Nigeria Police Force to also arrest the Fulani/Hausa persons involved in the crisis.
A statement by the Founder of OPC, Fredrick Fasehun, 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 fellow was arrested and 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 cohabitationbetween 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 Stat egovernor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, in the arrest of the 20 persons.
It alleged that Kwankwaso stampeded Governor Rauf Argebesola of Osun State and the Commissioner of Police into the ‘senseless’ arrests.
The OPC decried the failure of the police and the Federal Government to dislodge and arrest Fulani herdsmen who had since 2016 invaded and occupied the Agatu and Otukpo 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?”
Similarly, the Ondo State Chapter of Yoruba Youth Council, YYC, the youth arm of Yoruba Elders Group, has also expressed displeasure over police handling of the communal clash.
In a communiqué issued at the end of its inaugural meeting and read to newsmen in Akure on Thursday by its Ondo State Chairperson, Ewatomilola Owoeye, YYC condemned the action of the police, saying that the recent arrests by the police was one-sided.
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 ofcrime 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 Yorubas were arrested, taken to Abuja and paraded before the press.
“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 bythe police was done with ethnic bias and I demand a thorough investigation that is devoid of ethnic sentiments.”
He also called 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 mastermindsof the crisis.
The police was yet to issue any official statement in reaction to these allegations as at press time.