- Awawa Boys attacked us—Tanko, tomatoes seller
- Hausa ’re claiming it’s their land—Iya Modina
- Hausa scavenger, Area Boy fight started crisis—Police
By Evelyn Usman, Olasukanmi Akoni & Monsuru Olowoopejo
LAGOS—Pandemonium broke out yesterday, at Ilepo Market, Oke-Odo, along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, following a clash between Hausa and Yoruba traders.
Although no life was lost, several persons were severely injured, while goods worth millions of Naira were destroyed and some makeshift shops burnt in the incident, with different accounts as to how trouble started.
A version of the account said fight broke out Saturday night between some suspected cultists and Hausa scavengers around the dump site, when one of the parties tried to molest the other. It reportedly continued yesterday, as one of the parties was said to have overpowered the other.
Another account had it that some Hausa youths attempted to extort some Yoruba scavengers around the dump site, claiming that the area belongs to them (Hausa), a claim that led to verbal confrontation, which degenerated into violence.
One of the Hausa tomato sellers, Tanko Mohammed, told Vanguard : “I came out here this morning (yesterday) to sell, when some Awawa boys came from nowhere and started destroying our wares.
“Over 20 baskets of tomatoes were destroyed. While everyone was running, I remained in my shop to know what was happening. They came with cutlasses and sticks, attacking anyone at sight. They said some of our people beat one of theirs. But how is that my business, when the person in question is neither my brother nor sales boy?”
Another Yoruba trader, who simply gave her name as Iya Modinat, said: “These people (Hausa) have taken over the whole place, claiming it is theirs. They have dominated the dump site, depriving other people space there.
“They had confrontation with one Yoruba boy yesterday (Saturday) and before you knew it, all of them came out to fight with the person. His people (Yoruba boys) came to his rescue. Also yesterday, there was fight at the food stuff section. But I cannot say if that was what caused today’s (yesterday)fight.”
However, the Police said the trouble started between Hausa scavengers and some social miscreants otherwise known as Area boys, adding that five persons had been arrested in connection with the fracas.
Spokesman for the Lagos State Police Command, DSP Elkana Bala, said: “Yesterday, at about 10a.m., one Alhaji Adekunle Habib of Ilepo Market reported at Oke Odo Police Station that there was a misunderstanding between one Hausa scavenger and an area boy from Yoruba ethnic group.
“The area boy, according to him, was carrying some goods on his head when he was pushed by the Hausa boy in error. The goods fell down.
“Arguments ensued between the two parties, which led to exchange of blows. Friends of the two parties joined in the fight and other miscreants took advantage of the moment to steal and loot. They blocked Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
“What started as a fight between two miscreants almost snowballed into ethnic crisis, if not for the timely intervention of the Police. Police teams from Oke-Odo Division were the initial responders. The Command sent reinforcements from the Operations Department, Rapid Response Squads, Task Force, Tactical Units and Police Mobile Force.
“Divisions within the Area Command equally sent reinforcements. The situation was brought under control and traffic cleared. No death was recorded, but four persons sustained various degrees of injuries and are receiving medical attention.
“Five suspects, namely Kabiru Mohammed, Kabiru Adamu, Bashiru Mohammed, Saliu Madu and Yusuf Amuda, were arrested in connection with the breach of peace. Normalcy has been restored and patrols are ongoing in the affected areas. Suspects will be charged to court.”
Govt orders probe
Meanwhile, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has expressed the commitment of his administration to peaceful co-existence of all ethnic groups in the state without any fear.
Reacting to the crisis, Sanwo-Olu, in a statement through his Deputy Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile, stated that “we received the news with sadness. I must say that we found it very strange because Lagos is a peaceful state, where every ethnic nationality co-habits without rancour. The clash is quite strange.”
According to him, the security arm was immediately activated and within a few hours, the clash was quelled.
He said: “As I speak, normalcy has returned to the affected areas and residents are going about their lawful business.
“I need to reiterate that security of lives and properties of Lagosians remain one of the cardinal points of my administration. I, therefore, assure every citizen of their safety while enjoining them to go about their business lawfully.
“Finally, government will investigate the remote and immediate cause of the civil disturbance with the view to forestalling future occurrence.”