- Ferries wife, children to neighbouring country
The dust from the March 7, 2017 Hausa-Yoruba violent clash in the ancient town of Ile-Ife in Osun State has yet to settle as a family has raised the alarm over alleged threat to their lives by their Yoruba kinsmen.
Shortly after the crisis, it was learnt, the family of Mr. Elijah Ayeni, living at Lagere area of Ile-Ife, began to receive phone calls from unknown persons threatening to deal with them for taking side with the Hausa against their own people during the inter-ethnic clashes.
Our correspondent also gathered that soon after, some unidentified persons began to confront the head of the family, Mr. Elijah Ayeni, warning him to leave the town or risk a reprisal for allegedly “giving support” to the Hausa in the town.
Afraid and taken aback by such an accusation and anonymous threats on the phone, Ayeni reported the matter to the police. But in spite of this, his unknown accusers and stalkers did not stop their threats as some unidentified persons were said to have even attempted to attack him in the night on some occasions.
Trouble began in the ancient Yoruba town over eight months ago, when a Hausa trader in the Sabo area of the city was accused of assaulting a Yoruba woman. According to reports, some other Hausa traders later mobilised and killed a Yoruba man and paraded his corpse around the area. This was said to have angered some indigenes of the town, who embarked on a reprisal.
At the end of days of violent fighting between the combatants of both sides, no fewer than 46 people were reportedly killed and almost 100 others wounded. Police, however, arrested 20 suspects of Yoruba extraction during the violence that saw rampaging mobs wielding guns, machetes, assorted charms and throwing stones and other dangerous missiles at one another. The police dragnet for suspects involved in the violence in Ile-Ife was said to have been spread to neighbouring Oyo State and
It was then the ordeal of the Ayenis was said to have begun with unidentified persons stalking and threatening their breadwinner.
When the threats by these unknown persons became persistent, Ayeni and his family members had to stealthily leave the area in the middle of the night and escaped to Lagos.
Our correspondent gathered that a few weeks after, his alleged yet-to-be identified stalkers still trailed the Ayeni family to their Alagbado, Lagos, hideout, where series of nocturnal attempts were allegedly made by them to attack the family.
One night, according to a neighbour of the Ayenis in Lagos, who pleaded anonymity, some men wearing masks and armed with dangerous weapons stormed the residence of the family, but the alarm raised by other neighbours frightened them and they took to their heels without accomplishing their mission.
“Virtually all of us in this neighbourhood began to shout on top of our voices and, miraculously, these men with masks covering their faces took to their heels, although they had succeeded in breaking into the house of the Ayenis. The noise we were making scared them and they started shooting into the air as they escaped from this area,” he said.
The next day after the incident, the Ayeni family was once again forced to flee! And to keep his family out of the reach of these yet-to-be identified persons threatening their lives, this time, he had to relocate his wife and children across the Nigerian border to a neighbouring country, where they now live with some relations.
Fifty-year-old Ayeni himself, though full of fear for his life, is back in Lagos to continue to fend for his family now taking refuge outside the country.
But still afraid of being tracked down by those allegedly after him, he claimed he now lived the life of a nomad as he said he had been moving from one hideout to the other to forestall any attack on him.
Ayeni, who spoke with our correspondent on the phone, said, “The problem started after I told some boys in our area during the crisis to embrace peace, not knowing that they had marked me as an enemy because of my peace moves. It was by sheer luck that we escaped being killed in Ile-Ife. A day after we escaped from Ile-Ife, I was informed that shortly after we left that day, some people armed with dangerous weapons broke into our house and destroyed all our personal things they found
“I don’t understand what is happening. I don’t know how I supported the Hausa people against my own kinsmen. Is that possible? I relate with them just like other people in our community in Ile-Ife. I think for whatever reason, some people bent on getting rid of me and my family are just looking for an excuse to do that. Now, I have to always look above my shoulders every time I walk on the street. I have to move my family outside this country when the attempts on our lives became too frequent. I don’t know what I’ve done to anybody to want to get rid of me and I don’t even know the people behind all these attempts on my life. We ran from Ife to Lagos and they still came after us and it’s like they are determined to hunt me down.”
He added that since he and his family members escaped from Ile-Ife, he had continued to go about incognito in order not to be easily spotted by those who he said had allegedly vowed not to relent until they had achieved their aim of eliminating him and his family members.
“Now, I move from one location to the other to escape being trailed by these people I don’t even know. I fear for my life, I don’t even know what to do again or where else to go. These people have vowed never to relent until they get me,” Ayeni said.