At least 11 people have been buried on Sunday in the aftermath of Friday’s altercation between Hausa and Yoruba traders at Shasa Market in Akinyele Local Government Area, Oyo State.
Also, about 5,000 Hausa traders, women and children displaced by the violence were still taking refuge at the residence of the Sarkin Shasa, Alhaji Haruna Maiyasin, and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in Ibadan.
The Sarkin Sasa, who spoke with newsmen, said 11 victims were prepared for burial in his compound. A source in the Hausa community 20 killed persons were buried at the Akinyele Graveyard in the state capital.
The charred remains of 8 other people killed during the crisis were still at the police station in the Shasha area, as of yesterday evening.
“You can hear the noise, they are still here,” Alhaji Maiyasin told newsmen by telephone. He said the refuges in his residence were up to 3,000.
Newsmen report that there was still tension in the town and traders from both sides count losses.
Crisis erupted on Thursday when a porter carrying a basket of tomato inadvertently nudged a Yoruba woman. The woman allegedly retaliated and organised a group of Yoruba thugs to avenge. The fight snowballed to Friday during which many people were killed and dozens of shops, worship centres and houses destroyed.
One of our reporters observed that Hausa residents at Mokola area of Ibadan, which is the largest Hausa community in the state were clustering for fear of extension of violence to the area.
Newsmen observed that police officers were deployed to the house of the Sarkin Hausawa in Mokola to maintain law and order in the Sabo area of the community.
Governors booed in Shasa
Meanwhile, the residents of Shasha on Sunday booed the governor of the state, Engr. Seyi Makinde and his Ondo state counterpart, Rotimi Akeredolu, for Makinde’s lateness to visit the troubled area.
On arrival, Yoruba residents in the area insisted that the governors must not see the Sarkin Sasa, for the leader’s alleged failure to caution his subjects when the crisis started three days ago.
The two governors, who arrived Shasha around 2:30pm, were forced to make a retreat to instead visit the Baale of Shasha.
A Hausa resident, Hassan who said many of his friends have been killed in the unrest said the governor forgot that the Hausa community also voted for him in 2019.
Many of the residents informed newsmen that they have been informed not to rely on the police for protection, rather they are to prepare for any attack from the hoodlums.
Residents wondered why no arrest has been made since Thursday that people have been killing each other in Shasha area of the state.
Another resident, Haruna Baba told newsmen that a reliable source told them that those who perpetrate arson in Shasa are coming to attack them at the main Sabo in Mokola.
“You can see how people are gathering discussing the issue. They have killed many of our people. Those who have gone in seeking for refuge have gone to many places. Some have gone to Oyo while some are in Eleyele. Your source that told you that refugees are up to 5,000 is correct. They are many,” he said.
A resident, Akinyemi Kazeem blamed poor leadership in the state on the crisis, which started since Thursday but was not properly quelled.
Makinde, Akeredolu sue for peace
In their respective speeches during the visit to Shasha, Governors Makinde and Akeredolu appealed for calm and peaceful coexistence between the Hausa community and their Yoruba hosts.
The two governors who spoke at the Shasha market and the palace of the Baale Shasha, urged the residents of the community and Oyo State, to stop taking laws into their hands.
Speaking at the market, Governor Makinde promised to give palliatives to those whose wares were affected during the crisis, adding that the two factions have to eshew violence and allow peace to reign.
He said: “Please, I want you to listen to me clearly. You cannot resort to self-help to solve the issue on ground. All of you who are here are doing business with one another in one way or the other.
“The last time I came here, about six weeks ago, some shops belonging to Hausa and Yoruba people got burnt.
“So, you have been living together peacefully and all I am pleading to you is, no matter what is making anyone angry, we will solve it with patience.
“I was reluctant to declare curfew here because I feel the economic wellbeing of everyone here is important, and because this is where you get what you use to feed yourselves. I will engage with your leaders this evening. One thing is, if you allow those who don’t have anything to lose here to blow this matter out of proportion, no one will be able to say where the crisis will end. By the grace of God, I pray we don’t lose any more lives.
“We must not lose any life needlessly anymore. What the government will do to ensure that those whose houses, shops were burnt, we will rebuilt immediately. “But please, I beg of you, let us stop fighting with ourselves. I can assure you that we will deal with the situation.
“We must continue to maintain the peace here. Those who are hoodlums here will be dealt with but those who are law-abiding will be compensated for what they have lost.”
Similarly, Governor Akeredolu said that he was in Oyo State on behalf of the South West Governors.
He said that every aggrieved party must stop fighting and allow peace to reign.
“Concerning the issue on ground, we have come to beg you. We have been living together for a very long time and this is not the time to start fighting ourselves. So, let us consider that. There are some things that could be making us angry but don’t let us look at that because things cannot be like this forever
“Though we are here in our fatherland, our own sons and daughters are in another person’s fatherland. So, let us think about this and continue to live in peace with one another. We don’t need to fight ourselves.
“We have security agencies that you can call their attention to any issue that could cause crisis. Let us not take law into our hands. I have a brother in Abuja and others living in Hausaland.”
The chairman of South West Governors’ Forum said: “Also, let us cooperate with the governor here. If there are things we have done wrong, forgive us.”
Victims recount ordeal
Abdu Tanko, a trader whose two trucks carrying onions from Sokoto were entrapped in the fiasco said the bags of onions worth N3 million have been looted while part of it was burnt down.
“Security agents folded their arms whilst hoodlums looted our goods. And since two days ago, we’re left idle; no security personnel who came to our aid. It’s unfortunate, is that how life should be?” Asked rhetorically.
One of the women who sought refuge in Sarkin Shasa’s residence told newsmen: “We’re forced out of our homes out of hard moments we found ourselves. We don’t know how it all started. We’re chased out of homes. We’re beaten. We’ve been killed. And our houses were burnt down as well as our own properties. We’re starved and battling all sorts of hard times. Our children are crying. We’ve nobody to seek out help except the Almighty.”
Another Sasa resident who did not disclose his name said he and others were starving.
“The last time I ate was on Friday. I am only managing with some liquids. Government should hasten to aid our ordeals. I lost everything inside my shop and couldn’t ascertain its enormity.”
Another victim of the crisis, Akinyemi Kazeem, said houses were burnt by the angry Hausa people, adding that it was not only Hausa residents that fled the area.
“My family house have been burnt. Many of our neighbors have moved out of the community. Many shops have been burnt down. I think both Yoruba and Hausa have to be blamed for the unrest,” he said.
Uban Garin Shasa Alhaji Nalado Isa, said the entire unrest came to him like a nightmare. “We don’t know what had exactly happened. It’s Friday morning when they clamped down on us. Some of us have lived here for over 40 years. All our belongings have been lost.”
Fulani returnees from South South repairing their huts at Laduga Village, Kachia Forest, in Kaduna State yesterday
Chairman Shasa Market, Alhaji Usman Yako told newsmen that miscreants have been lurking around the market for a long time, committing smaller atrocities.
“We wanted government to fish out all these urchins taking refuge inside the market; we’re hopeful that by doing this we can get rid of such heinous things.”
He bemoaned that the order for the market closure came late, when the damage was already done.
‘Shasa symbol of unity’
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the popular Shasa market has been a symbol of unity for decades, describing the clash as unfortunate.
Speaking in Lagos when he paid a condolence visit to late Lateef Jakande’s residence at Ilupeju, the VP said, “For decades, traders from the North have done business with their brothers from the Southwest and they have lived in peace and even inter-married. Shasa represents unity.”
Osinbajo warned against giving ethnic colouration to any crisis.
“A disagreement arising between individuals or a criminal act is committed by one against the other we must ensure that we see it for what it is, a criminal act, which must be punished according to law. Not an ethnic conflict.
“I have heard about the unfortunate mayhem and the tragic loss of lives at the Shasa market in the past few days. Shasa market has been a melting pot for traders bringing foodstuff from the North to the Southwest for decades,” he added.
Osinbajo also warned individuals against taking the law into their hands, saying, “Every Nigerian has a constitutional right to live, work and enjoy their lives in safety, peace under the law.
“It is the duty of government through the police and other law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute any person who commits a crime against a citizen of this nation. It is the role of the citizen to assist the police to identify the criminals.
“We must never take the law into our own hands, if we do, we will be promoting chaos, and a breakdown of law and order, and all of us especially the most vulnerable amongst us, will be at risk. I urge all community leaders to work together to preserve the brotherly co-existence that our people from different parts of the country have enjoyed in Shasa market for several decades.”
The VP however lauded the governor for “his swift and decisive action and all the law enforcement agencies for their prompt intervention.”
Matawalle, NEF, OPC call for action
Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State, Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and The O’odua Peoples Congress (OPC) yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take action by investigating the mayhem and ending the orgy of violence across the country.
In a statement by signed his Special Adviser on Public Enlightenment, Media and Communication, Mallam Zailani Bappa on Sunday, Governor Matawalle who sympathised with the victims of the attack and called on President Buhari to take decisive action on the spate of violence gripping some South-Western States and gradually turning into criminality.
“It is inexcusable that at this stage of our journey as a nation, we are yet to come to terms with the fact that God has made it a destiny for us to live as one people. It is unfortunate that while our counterparts elsewhere are fusing up from particularity to generality as a people, we are fast sliding backwards from semblance of generality to particularity as a people’, Governor Matawalle lamented.
He noted that hatred and regional dichotomy would not lead us to whatever we think we can gain out of it but backwardness and doom.
Governor Matawalle said President Buhari should to take a decisive step towards ending the ethnic profiling of the Fulani tribe in some parts of the country which is now graduating to include the entire Northern communities especially in Oyo state.
“I also urge my colleague, the governor of Oyo State to take concrete steps in curtailing the ongoing senseless attacks and ensure that such happenings do not occur again. We are battling with insurgency and banditry as a nation and here are supposed law abiding citizens unleashing mayhem on innocent citizens to compound the spate of insecurity in the country’, he said.
“We must eschew primitive hatred against one another and learn to live with ourselves as one people. Our common enemy is not among those we live in the same community, buy and sell from one another, but those who take up arms against us in the name of banditry and insurgency’, he added.
Spokesman for the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, also asked President Muhammadu Buhari to act swiftly, saying the country was being “set on fire”.
In a Twitter post, Baba-Ahmed said Nigerians living in any part of the country must be protected. He said there will not be any attack on southerners living in the north as a response to the alleged attack on northerners in the south.
“Attacking innocent southerners living in the north will not be the right response to attacks on northerners in the south,” Baba-Ahmed said.
“We should demand that Nigerians, wherever they are, must be protected. President and Governors: Do something, NOW! They are setting the country on fire under you!”
OPC in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Barrister Yinka Oguntimehin, called on President Buhari and Governor Makinde to investigate the Shasha clashes.
The group expressed concern that a minor misunderstanding between a pregnant woman and a Hausa man later degenerated into tribal crisis leading to death and destruction of properties in the community.
He said, “It is unfortunate that a short misunderstanding between two traders eventually led to killing and destruction. Yoruba are everywhere in Nigeria, especially, in the North, mostly in Kano and Kaduna, however, it is on record that no Yoruba native has ever instigated any crisis in the North.
“Therefore, I am using this opportunity to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the circumstances surrounding the ugly incident, so as to bring the culprits to book and also forestall further crisis”, he said.
Oguntimehin also condemned the report that a Divisional Police officer (DPO) in charge of Ile-Igbon Division, Surulere Local Government Area of Ogbomoso in Oyo State, Adepoju Ayodeji shot an operative of Amotekun for arresting Fulani herdsmen that allegedly destroyed a cassava farm.
“The police officer should be made to face the music for shooting an Amotekun corp. No matter who was involved and the circumstances surrounding the incident, the police boss should be professional enough to know when to pull the trigger.”
Northern Governors, Elders meet
The leadership of the Northern Governors Forum will today meet with the Northern Elders Forum in Abuja to discuss the current killings and destruction of properties in Ibadan, Oyo State.
The meeting, according to the Director, Publicity of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, will discuss the current situation in Oyo State and the safety of northerners in other parts of southern Nigeria.
“We will be meeting under the leadership of the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong and we will make our position known at the end of the meeting,” he said. While giving further clarification to his tweet asking for action to avert the looming danger, Baba-Ahmed told newsmen that anyone who takes a life must be ready to account for his actions before the Almighty.
“People need to know that you can’t just go around attacking people, you must account for your actions before Allah. You can’t just kill an innocent Yoruba man in the north because another Yoruba man has killed a Hausa man in the south, what will you say when you stand before Allah, that you killed him because a northerner was killed?”