SOUTH-West governors, yesterday, took their troubleshooting efforts to Shasha in Ojoo Area of Ibadan, advising the residents of the area to avoid reprisal attacks with their Hausa neighbours. The crisis started, weekend.
Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, who was led to the Shasha market by his Oyo State counterpart, Governor Seyi Makinde, urged the Yoruba elders in the area to prevail on the youths to allow peace to reign.
On his part, Governor Makinde, yesterday, vowed to resist attempts of those he described as fifth columnists to destabilize the state.
The governor’s remarks came, as the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, yesterday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Makinde to investigate the incident.
Akeredolu preaches peace
Akeredolu, who addressed the people of the area after assessing the wanton destruction of properties, begged the residents to allow peace to reign.
He said: “We have come to plead with you that no matter how angry, we should not react violently. I know many things may get us angry, but as we know, we have been living together for a long time. Let us think about the past, let us consider our peaceful coexistence in the past. Let us be calm.
“I have come on behalf of all South-West Governors, I beg you to be calm. While thinking about us here, let us also know that we are also everywhere. This is our fatherland, no doubt, but our people are also in some other people’s fatherland. We must also think about them.
“Let us not take laws into our hands. The police are here and they are ready to work now. Amotekun officers are here for you. I’m not saying that for us as Governors that we are perfect or the police are perfect. But we can’t take laws into our hands. Please, we know it might be very provocative but I appeal for calm because we have families in the North. Let us cooperate with Governor Seyi Makinde.”
I’ll resist fifth columnists from destabilising Oyo —Makinde
Also speaking, Governor Makinde, who urged the people not to resort to self-help, called for peaceful co-existence.
He said: “I want you to listen to me, you cannot resort to self-help to solve the issue on the 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 of you is that no matter what is making anyone angry, we will solve it with patience.
“I was reluctant to declare curfew here because I felt 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.
“We must not lose any life needlessly anymore. What the government will do to ensure that those whose houses, shops were burnt, we will rebuild immediately. 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.
“We will leave no stone unturned in providing adequate security for our brothers and sisters. This is unwarranted and we must bring anyone found culpable of this dastardly act to book.”
Earlier, Makinde, who spoke through the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. Wasiu Olatubosun, said his administration was trying to maintain the peaceful atmosphere that the State has been known for.
He said: “It is unfair for anybody to say the government has not done enough to nip insecurity in the bud, Governor Seyi Makinde is one of the governors in Nigeria that always make all possible efforts at ensuring peace in his State.
“He never for any reason abandoned his role as the Chief Security Officer of the State, and you can see that he has brought calm to Ibarapa and Oke-Ogun zones after the recent hullabaloo there.
“We have seen and heard them, politics should not be introduced into the important issue of security of lives and properties of our people, they should know for sure that this administration will not allow anything that will create fear for investors and business concerns to come into our State and create wealth for our people.
“It is in maintaining the peace that we will keep businesses thriving and attracting more investments, it is there that we will maximize job opportunities and improve on our revenue generation to develop social infrastructures, so if they think they should disrupt the peace in the land because of politics, they should be told that they have governor Makinde to contend with.”
Criminal acts shouldn’t be treated as ethnic conflict—Osinbajo
While condemning the clash, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said criminal acts should be treated according to the tenets of the law, and not as ethnic conflict.
Osinbajo said this while speaking to reporters about the recent clash in Shasha market, Ibadan, Oyo state.
While condemning the “unfortunate mayhem”, the Vice-President said: “I have heard about the unfortunate mayhem and the tragic loss of lives at the Shasha market in the past few days.
“Shasha market has been a melting pot for traders bringing foodstuff from the north to the south-west for decades. For decades, traders from the north have done business with their brothers from the south-west, and they have lived in peace and even inter-married. Shasha represents unity.
“So, when a disagreement arises 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.
“Every Nigerian has a constitutional right to live, work and enjoy their lives in safety, peace under the law.”
He also asked Nigerians never to take the law into their own hands, adding that it is the citizen’s duty to assist the police to identify criminals.
He said: “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.”
Investigate Sasa clash, OPC charges Buhari, Makinde
Also, the OPC, in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Oguntimehin, expressed concern that a minor misunderstanding between a pregnant woman and a Hausa man later degenerated into a tribal crisis leading to death and destruction of properties in the community.
The statement reads: “It is unfortunate that a misunderstanding between two traders eventually led to killings 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.”
Genesis of the crisis
Meanwhile, the community leader of Shasha, Chief Amusa Ajani called on both the Federal and State Governments to take urgent steps that would nip the crisis in the bud.
Describing the crisis as unfortunate, Chief Ajani said, “For me, the arson that trailed the death of a cobbler in the market was misdirected and uncalled for. It is sad that the group that was responsible for the death of the man were still those going about setting houses and shops ablaze.”
Narrating how it started to Vanguard, the community leader said: “It all started with the argument that ensued between a pregnant woman and a Hausa man. A cobbler, who came around to pacify them was struck with a magical ring and later died the next day. This triggered the crisis. Government should act fast.
“Those who are causing trouble are now mocking us. They said if Shasha is no longer habitable they would relocate to nearby community. We want an end to violence in Shasha. I have told our people to maintain peace. Nobody should engage in violence but. We want the Hausa to sheathe the sword.
“But, come to think of it, why has urgent and proactive action not been taken? Who is the government afraid of? They are beating about the bush. The people are now saying that they would relocate from Shasha to Iroko. Should we be doing this to ourselves as a people?”
We lost property worth several millions of naira —Victims
One of the victims of the clash, Alhaji Musiliudeen Moliki, said: “It had never been this bad. I manage the public toilet in the market. Now, the facility had been set ablaze. Property worth several millions of naira had been damaged. For me, a peace meeting should be called. We should all come to round table and look for way forward. Security in Nigeria is porous.”
Also, a food seller in the market, Osuolale Monsurat, said: “My shop was burnt yesterday. I lost wares during the attack worth N250, 000. Since I got to this market eight years ago, I never experienced a thing like this. Now our shops were burnt while we were looking helplessly. We implore the government to come to our aid as our means of livelihood have perished.”
When the Newsmen visited the trouble spots, the market was devoid of its usual hustle and bustle. Some people were seen in groups discussing the mayhem. Also, there was heavy security presence to ensure peace reigns in the market.