I f security agencies deployed in Ile-Ife, Osun State, to quell last week’s ethnic violence in the ancient Yoruba town had adopted some preemptive measures, the clash between the indigenes and the settlers would not have escalated, an eye witness and spokesperson of the Hausa community in the area, Alhaji Nasiru Mogaji, has alleged.
Mogaji also disclosed that a fisticuff between a Hausa lady married to a Yoruba man and another Hausa resident of the town snowballed into the violence, which eventually claimed several lives and resulted in the destruction of properties.
He said that the police ought to have returned to monitor the security situation in the Sabo area, where the violence took place, on Wednesday to ensure that normalcy had returned to the area after the initial clash on Tuesday night.
Mogaji also blamed the police for not taking seriously the earlier complaints officially lodged by his kinsmen against the alleged provocative utterances of some of the indigenes of the town.
He said, “To be sincere, on that Tuesday night, the security agents calmed the situation down. But they were supposed to have come to Sabo to check the situation. The garage (motor park) was not supposed to have functioned the next day (Wednesday).
Also, the police took our reports on the provocative utterances of some of the indigenes lightly. There should be a checkmate on the utterances of some people in order not to cause crisis.”
Mogaji, who gave account of the events that led to the violence on a radio programme monitored in Osogbo, said though the town had always been peaceful ever since he was born in Ile-Ife, some indigenes had become fond of issuing provocative and inciting utterances against his Hausa kinsmen.
He, however, said that the presence of security agents had been helpful in restoring peace to the blackspots in the town.
Narrating how the mayhem began, Mogaji, who is also the secretary of the Sabo Central Mosque in Ile-Ife, said “One male Hausa trader, Abubakar Muhammed, had wanted to drop a load in front of the shop of Mrs. Kuburat Saka, a Hausa lady who got married to a Yoruba man in Ife, but she prevented him and started abusing Muhammed.
An altercation ensued and Kuburat slapped him. Muhammed retaliated by slapping her in return. “This happened on Tuesday night around the garage area in Sabo.
Immediately Muhammed slapped Kuburat, some garage boys led by one Akeem Eluwole, aka Escort, attacked Muhammed and started beating him and knocked off one of his teeth, because Kuburat is the wife of their boss in the garage. Kuburat is part of us (Hausa).
She was given birth to and brought up in Ife like me. She had her first issue for a friend of mine. So, she is a person I know very well. I even gave her N30,000 to write her WAEC and NECO a month ago.
“We phoned the police station and policemen arrived at the scene and they were able to restore normalcy that Tuesday night. But on Wednesday morning, they regrouped again and started attacking Hausa people on sight.
One Ademola Ademiluyi of Apoti, who is the head of the garage, gave the garage boys cutlasses and other weapons, with which they attacked people. We tried to calm the situation but it was beyond us.
“As members of the NURTW were shooting us with AK-47, our houses were being set ablaze. They mistakenly set some houses belonging to the Yoruba ablaze, too, because the houses are close.
The houses burnt from Sabo junction to Sabo market were more than 20.” On the number of casualties, Mogaji said, “I can’t say for now, but I took eight people to the Wesley Hospital in Ilesa, when they told us that the teaching hospital in Ile -Ife had been filled up. But some people said they saw up to 18 bodies of people around the mosque area.
“Although, Kabiesi, the Ooni, has been trying to maintain peace, some of the indigenes of Ife do tell us (Hausa settlers) that ‘one day we will kill all of you. We will send you packing one day’.
So, that was why the crisis became tribal, because some people have shown that they did not to like our stay in the land.”
The police and other security agencies have, however, since restored normalcy to Ile-Ife town and residents of the town have been going about their normal business.