January 4, 2019

When bus stop tears Ekiti communities apart

When bus stop tears Ekiti communities apart

•Photo shows the burnt bus stop and another property vandalised

By Rotimi Ojomoyela

ADO-EKITI — SAVE for the quick intervention of security agencies, the violent crisis that engulfed Igbemo and Orun in Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government Area of Ekiti State, would have consumed the communities and send most of the inhabitants to internally displaced people’s camp.

•Photo shows the burnt bus stop and another property vandalised

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Igbemo-Ekiti, popularly known within and outside the state for its expansive local rice farm, had existed peacefully side by side with its twin town, Orun, for several years.

But what would engage the mind of the security agencies in the state for now is figuring out how such  serene and agrarian communities that had existed peacefully for several years would  erupt in such violent crisis that threatened their very existence.

How crisis erupted

Trouble started few days to the New Year, when a bus stop constructed by Orun youths to mark the festive period was to be commissioned.

All hell was let loose as according to an eyewitness, some irate youths from Igbemo community stormed the venue of the ceremony, violently dispersed the jubilant crowd, who had gathered for the ceremony and allegedly burnt down the structure, over the claim that  it was constructed on their land.

Disputed land, accusations and counter-accusations 

The bus stop was said to have been built on a disputed land lying in the boundary between the two communities, which had at different times claimed ownership of the land.

Sources alleged that the Onigbemo of Igbemo, Oba Adewumi Daramola, and his chiefs had kicked against the construction of the bus stop on Igbemo land, while the Olorun of Orun-Ekiti, Oba Joshua Osalusi, it was also gathered, would have none of that.

Some youths in Orun community, fingered the monarch of Igbemo, Oba Adewumi Daramola and his wife for igniting the crisis by allegedly leading some thugs to burn down the bus stop.

Prince and son of the monarch of Orun-Ekiti, Ademola Osalusi, who spoke on behalf of the town said: “We have got autonomy from the state government and the age long dispute on the piece of land on which the shed was erected has been resolved since 2016.

“But the Onigbemi of Igbemo and his people have always been causing trouble here. Early on Monday morning, the monarch of Igbemo and his wife led thugs to cause chaos in our community and burnt the bus stop shed built by our youths.

“We invited the police but we were disappointed that some fake policemen eventually came around to take sides with the Igbemo people in this matter. We, however, appreciate the efforts of the deputy governor, who promptly came to the area to settle the matter and ordered a meeting with all the parties involved.”

Igbemo youths fault claim

But reacting to Osalusi’s claims, a youth from Igbemo said: “Don’t mind those liars from Orun. The land in question belongs to us as our monarch has told us. This is why we were encouraged to assist the monarch in reclaiming our land. On this matter, it is ‘No retreat, no surrender.’ We will ensure that we get the land back.”

Govt reads riot act 

Unhappy at the ugly development, the Ekiti State Government had tongue- lashed the two monarchs,  Onigbemo of Igbemo-Ekiti, Oba Daramola and his counterpart in Orun, Oba Osalusi, for allowing the crisis to degenerate to a violent clash between their subjects without any effort at dousing the tension.

During an emergency visit to palaces of the monarchs on Monday, the Deputy Governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, expressed displeasure over disruption of peace and the tension created by the burning down of the bus stop shed.

According to the Deputy Governor’s Special Assistant (Media), Odunayo Ogunmola, the two monarchs have been summoned to a peace meeting at Egbeyemi’s office in Ado-Ekiti, where lasting solution would be proffered.

Egbeyemi told the monarch that he came to issue a “yellow card” to them and their chiefs on the crisis, warning that further breakdown of law and order in the two communities would compel the state government to give what he called “red card” to them.

The Deputy Governor, who emphasized that the state government would not tolerate bloodshed, violence, arson and acrimony among communities in Ekiti State, maintained that government would only be able to implement its good intention in an atmosphere where peace is sustained.

Egbeyemi said: “There had been a lot of crises in these communities two days ago and if not curtailed, it could lead to loss of lives. I have been asked to give Olorun and Onigbemo a yellow card and after this, if the crises persist, be expecting a red card.

“It is when there is peace that we can attract industries and bring developmental projects to your communities. If there is no peace, there is no way we would be able to assist your people and the community at large.

“We want peace to reign in all the nooks and crannies of Ekiti State.”