By Kingsley Omonobi
Abuja—The Police at Force headquarters, yesterday, said that 46 persons were killed and 96 others wounded during the clash that erupted between the Hausa and the Yoruba communities in Ile Ife, Osun State.
Force Public Relations Officer, Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, Moshood Jimoh, who made the disclosure while parading 20 suspects of Yoruba extraction, arrested in respect of the clash, said the suspects were picked based on information and interrogation during and after the crisis.
Asked by newsmen why 38 suspects were originally arrested and only 20 were found culpable in the clashes with the other 18 were set free, the FPRO said, investigation by the police was still ongoing adding that contrary to insinuations, the arrest is not one sided nor based on ethnicity.
Giving details of the arrests, CSP Moshood said, “Consequent upon the unfortunate clashes, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, deployed Police Special Intervention Forces.
“It comprised of the Police Mobile Force, Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Counter-terrorism Unit, Intelligence Response Unit SIB, EOD and led by the Commissioner of Police in Charge PMF.
“The operation was successful, leading to the arrest, detention and investigation of 38 suspects out of which 20 were found culpable for direct and indirect participation in the killing of innocent people, maiming, and destruction of properties of the victims.
He said the 20 will be prosecuted on completion of investigations, while the remaining 18 suspects have been released unconditionally for lack of prima-facie evidence against them.
Continuing, Moshood said that; “Based on the report at the Moore Police Station where the fracas was reported in Ile Ife, a case of conduct likely to cause breach of peace was made against the duo of Kuburat and Mohammed and on getting to the scene, the police team met two groups comprising the Hausa and the Yoruba throwing stones at each other. The riotous groups were dispersed and calm was restored.
“The responding police teams maintained peace at Sabo area of Ile Ife up till the next day.
“Unexpectedly, on Wednesday 9th March 2017, the peace of the area was shattered with the eruption of crisis that led to the gruesome killing of 46 people.
‘’A total of 96 other persons were taken to the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, OAUTH, out of which 81 of them were treated and discharged, while 15 others are still on admission receiving treatment”
Those paraded yesterday are Olarenwaju Adebayo, Akanbi Adeyinka, Obimakinde Samuel, Alhaji Zakari Abdulyekini, Bamidele Ilusanmi, Jimoh Sakiru, Eluwole Akeem and Eluwole Kuburat.
Others are Ayoola Abimbola, Bello Wahab, Taiwo Fokinwajo, Oba Ademola Ademiluyi, Peter Omisope, Adefisan Isaac, Adelekan Kehinde, Olufisan Akintoye, Omisanmi Isaac, Olarenwaju Daniel, Seye Akinyonbo and Adejugnon Monday.
Speaking briefly before they were taken away, Oba Ademola Ademiluyi denied involvement in the mayhem saying that when his car ran into the fracas, he diverted his journey to avoid his windscreen being damaged.
The Police, however, said the suspects were arrested in Lagos, Oyo and Osun States noting that many of them went into hiding.
Moshood said, “The Special Intervention Force did not engage in indiscriminate arrests as being reported in some media but worked on actionable intelligence and other information gathered during and after the crisis. That is why 18 suspects found not to be involved in the crisis were released unconditionally.”
Commercial activities return
Meantime, normal commercial activities resumed yesterday, in Ile-Ife.
According to reports, doors of banks, as well as government offices, shops and private offices, which were locked since Wednesday, March 8, had been re-opened.
Everybody, including civil servants, now movep freely without being challenged by security agencies, as most barricades on the roads had been removed.
The situation was calm in Sabo and Lagere areas of the town where the crisis erupted.
The Hausa had resumed their businesses as usual with people moving freely around the areas.
Arrests, undue sectional deployment of federal might –Afenifere
Decring the police action, 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.
Also, 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.’’