Leaders of both Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo indigenes residing in Ile-Ife, Osun State, on Monday, called for an end to ethnic clashes in the ancient city. They spoke at a news conference organised by the Ife Progressive Forum/Action Council in Ile-Ife.
The Seriki Hausawa of Ife, Alhaji Abubakar Madagali, said that the disturbance, which momentarily eroded the peace of the ancient city was unnecessary. Madagali said that many of his subjects suffered colossal losses, adding that some had died and many more sustained injuries.
The leader of the Hausa community said that authorities concerned must step up efforts to resolve the crisis without delay.
His words: “We initially came here to seek for greener pastures, but Ife has now become our home.
“This latest crisis was not a clash between us and the Yorubas, instead, it was a misunderstanding between some persons which escalated.
“All we are saying now is for us to embrace peace and continue to live together.
“I want to assure the Ile-Ife public that the Hausa community is not planning any retaliation. We view the incident as a misfortune ordained by Allah.”
On his part, Mr Lawrence Awowoyin, the president of Ife Progressive Forum/Action Council, said that the crisis was masterminded by hoodlums. According to him, a committee has been set up to look into the root cause of the crisis with a view to finding a lasting solution. He said that the crisis had either political or ethnic colouration, but hinged on land dispute between a Yoruba family and Hausa community.
“We all regret the unfortunate clash between certain individuals around Sabo area of Ile-Ife, which led to loss of lives and property.
“The love of Ife people toward all ethnic groups from time immemorial is not in doubt. “The crisis was an offshoot of misunderstanding between two individuals at Sabo area of Ile-Ife. This misunderstanding was unfortunately hijacked by hoodlums in the area.
“It is unthinkable for anyone to think that the fracas was ignited by Ife community. We coexisted with Hausas, Igbo and other ethnic
groups for decades without discrimination.” He, therefore, urged security agents to be fair and objective in handling the issue to eliminate the looming tension. According to him, “We condemn in its entirety any form of ethnic clash, militancy and insurgency anywhere in Nigeria and in Ife land in particular.
“It is our position that we are all creatures of Almighty God, hence, we are all citizens of the world and we abhor bloodshed in all ramifications. “We sympathise with victims from both sides. It is a known fact that both Yoruba and the Arewa community suffered colossal losses and deaths from the crisis.”
The Ezendigbo of Ireland, His Highness Chief Ezekeil Onyejekwe, who was in Ife, urged the warring parties to eschew bitterness and live together in one accord.
He said that the incident was unfortunate, adding that it was the first time such an ugly disturbance would occur in the ancient city. ` There was a bloody clash between the Hausa community and the Yorubas in Ile-Ife, Osun State on March 8, where lives were lost and property worth millions of naira were destroyed. Although the ugly incident was immediately contained by Osun State security operatives, tension was said to be high in the city.
Meanwhile, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, had inaugurated a truth and reconciliation committee to ensure peace between the Hausa community and Yorubas in the ancient city.
Oba Ogunwusi inaugurated the committee in his palace on Saturday in Ile-Ife, Osun. The Ooni described members of the Hausa community in Ile-Ife as his subjects and co-owners of the town with whom he enjoyed tremendous loyalty in the last 14 months of his reign.
He said, “Thank God for the normalcy; I commend Gov. Rauf Aregbesola, for being proactive and the security agents for their efforts toward ending the crisis.’’
The royal father condemned the actions of those behind the fracas and expressed optimism that they would soon be apprehended and made to face the full wrath of the law.
Picture: Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi