Akeem Lasisi, Friday Olokor, Adelani Adepegba and Godwin Isenyo
The pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, on Monday, faulted the arrest and parade of suspects involved in the riot at Ile-Ife on March 8, saying no Hausa/Fulani was arrested.
The Publicity Secretary of the group, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, said the parade of the suspects in Abuja showed “undue sectional deployment of federal might.”
The police had, on Monday, at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, paraded 20 suspects, including a traditional ruler, Oba Ademola Ademiluyi, the Lawarikan of Apojeland, for alleged involvement in the Ile-Ife crisis.
The Force said 46 persons were killed and properties worth millions of naira destroyed during the mayhem while 96 others were hospitalised at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital out of which 81 of them were treated and discharged while 15 others were still on admission.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, said 38 suspects were earlier arrested, detained and investigated, out of which 18 persons, who were not involved in the violence, were released.
Checks, however, indicated that all those paraded for their involvement in the violence were Yoruba, but the police spokesman denied that the investigation was targeted at a particular group.
He insisted that the suspects were indicted by the investigators, noting that evidence collated by the police showed that the suspects were all involved in the violence that rocked the ancient city.
Moshood stated, “It is not a one-sided thing; suspects from different backgrounds were arrested and some of them were released when investigations showed that they had nothing to do with the violence.
“To be specific, 38 suspects from various backgrounds and ethnic groups were arrested, but 20 of them, who were found culpable for direct and indirect participation in the killing of innocent people were detained and they would be prosecuted.”
He did not, however, explain why none of the Hausa traders, who allegedly started the fracas and killed some residents, were not among the suspects.
Giving the background to the crisis, the police spokesman explained that one Kuburat Eluwole triggered the violence when she allegedly slapped one Abubakar Mohammed in the course of an argument.
Eluwole’s husband, Akeem, a.k.a. Escort, allegedly sponsored some thugs who attacked the Hausa residents of Sabo, leading to the death of 46 persons who were allegedly killed with knives and axes.
Moshood said, “On Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at about 2010hrs, one Alhaji Nasiru Magaji of No. 50 Sabo Street, Ile-Ife, Osun State, reported at Moore Police Station that one Oba Ademola Ademiluyi, the Lawarikan of Apoje land, one Eluwole Akeem ‘m’ (a.k.a Escort) and his wife, Kuburat, brought some hoodlums with cutlasses and other dangerous weapons to attack Hausa residents at the Sabo area of Ile-Ife over a fight between Mohammed of Sabo and Kuburat.”
Based on the report at the Moore Police Station, the police said a case of conduct likely to cause breach of the peace was made against the duo of Kuburat and Mohammed.
“Unexpectedly, on Wednesday March 8, the peace of the area was shattered with the eruption of crisis that led to the gruesome killings of 46 people,” Moshood stated.
But the Oba denied involvement in the crisis, saying he was in Lagos when the violence erupted, adding that he did not know anything about the incident.
“I was in Lagos on March 7 when the violence erupted and when I heard about it, I reported at the Bar Beach police station. When I got to Ile-Ife, I saw the two groups throwing stones at each other and someone asked me to intervene, but I said I don’t speak Hausa.
“The police arrested me, but I don’t know anything about the issue,” he said in Yoruba.
Arrests, undue sectional deployment of federal might –Afenifere
Faulting the police, Afenifere said it objected seriously to the parade of the “so-called suspects in Abuja that is hundreds of miles away from the scene of the conflict.”
According to the group, the right place to investigate this disturbance is Osun State.
It stated, “The Abuja show is undue sectional deployment of federal might to intimidate and harass a party in the conflict. It is direct fallout of the threat of the Interior Minister (Abdulrahaman Danbazzau) after he visited Ife.
“The minister is not on record to have visited any scene of conflict where Fulani herdsmen have inflicted ‘massacres’ on their host communities in the Southern and Middle Belt communities since he was appointed.
“The Ife crisis was sparked by the beheading of a Yoruba vulcaniser and the subsequent parade of his severed head on a pole. How come there is no member of the Arewa community paraded by the police?
“We reject the one-eyed Magistrate that the police have become in this matter and which is as a result of the ethnic composition of the police presently.
“We demand the immediate transfer of the suspects to Osun state. We will resist this ethnic vengeance through the police except we see arrests of the Fulani aggressors in the Ife conflict.”
But the National Publicity Secretary of the pan-northern socio-political organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum, Alhaji Muhammad Ibrahim, said he would not comment on the arrest and the parade of the suspects in Abuja.
“I won’t comment on that matter. We don’t want to give anything ethnic or religious colouration; that’s why I don’t want to comment on it. Sorry, I am in the hospital attending to people. One of my best friends is ill please,” he said.
Arraign those arrested –Group
On its part, Ife Club 1, an association of elite indigenes of Ile-Ife, Osun State, called on the police to hasten the process of prosecuting people arrested in connection with the recent clash.
The President of the club, Chief Adebisi Ogundipe, made the call in Lagos on Monday at a briefing by the executives and other senior members of the club.
Ogundipe said there was also the need to
reveal the identities of those in detention, so that people would see whether or not the allegation of partiality on the part of security agencies was true or not.
He said, “The crisis in Ife is surprising giving the age-long harmonious relationship between the two communities. They had related with each other for almost two centuries and operated like brothers and sisters with inter-ethnic marriages and a lot of business relationships.
“As a lawyer, I will not support any act of violence and illegality; but the security officials posted there did not demonstrate enough professionalism in the way they handled the situation during and after the crisis.
“They were supposed to arrest those involved on both sides. But even now that arrests have been made, all we are saying is, let the law take its course. The police should quickly arraign those in their custody. That is what our law says.’’