*How Nigerien triggered crisis
*Arson uncalled for —Shasha community leader
*We can’t estimate what we’ve lost to the crisis
*Don’t take laws into your hands —Makinde
By Ola Ajayi
RIVALRY between Hausa and Yoruba traders at Shasha market in Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo State has been a perennial problem.
From time to time, there have been skirmishes over the control of parts of the market.
Some years ago, there was a minor crisis over collection of fees in the market. While the Yoruba control parts of the market, their visitors agitate for a part.
All this while, there was never a time that the misunderstanding assumed the proportion of this latest crisis.
Vanguard gathered that apart from vehicles, motorcycles and shops that were torched, unspecified number of people were killed during the crisis. Also, over 3,000 people, including children, were displaced.
Last Friday, before the crisis started, business in the market started with its usual hustle and bustle. Suddenly, a common misunderstanding between a pregnant woman and a man from Niger Republic soon snowballed into killings, looting and arson.
What triggered the crisis
There are divergent claims over what actually caused the crisis. While some of the traders, who are resident in the area, claimed that the crisis was triggered by a Hausa man who hit one Adex with a charmed ring which paralysed him and eventually led to his death, a girl who claimed to be at the spot of the crisis said the man that started the fight was not a Hausa man.
How Nigerien triggered crisis
She alleged that the man at the centre of the crisis is from Niger Republic.
She said in a viral video, “I was at the spot when the fight started. Tomatoes belonging to a Niger man littered the frontage of the shop of a pregnant woman who insisted that the man must pack the tomatoes and wash her stained shop.
“They were arguing when a Yoruba man intervened. His intervention soon led to a hot argument during which the Yoruba man slapped him. The Nigerien returned the slap and the Yoruba man fell.
“He was rushed to the hospital where he was confirmed dead. People were even saying how just one slap could kill someone. That was how the crisis started. But one man who recorded the scene claimed it was a Hausa man. We should be careful about what we say and post.”
Arson uncalled for—Shasha community leader
But a community leader in Shasha, Amusa Akinade 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 was still going about setting houses and shops ablaze.
Narrating how it started, he 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 their 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?”
When Vanguard called one of the leaders in the market simply identified as Alhaji Ciroma, he said it was true that ‘we buried some of our people on Sunday.’
Ciroma, whose voice was hoarse as a result of the trauma told Vanguard: “Yes, it is true some of our people were buried on Sunday. Even now, we are still looking for others.”
He faulted the report of a certain special adviser to Governor Seyi Makinde on the crisis saying it didn’t reflect what actually happened.
Vanguard also gathered that about 3,000 people were displaced and are now taking shelter with their people in other parts of the city.
Also, a man from the other side of the crisis who did not identify himself said some of their people have been killed during the crisis.
“Do you know that we lost one popular man, Adex, and others whose whereabouts we don’t know as of now.
“Almost all our shops have been burnt by arsonists. We cannot estimate what we have lost to the crisis. Those who sustained injuries cannot yet be determined until the tension is over.”
A reliable source told Vanguard that some people were being escorted out of the trouble spots by security agents to Moniya area of the city while some reportedly relocated to Mokola area of the city.
Peace returns to market
Meanwhile, peace has returned to the market but there was a handful of people under a tree discussing the crisis.
Unlike Friday and Saturday when both human and vehicular traffic were paralysed, some trucks loaded with tubers of yam were seen coming from Shasha-Ojoo end of the road to Sango.
But, some truck drivers who were afraid of being caught up in the crisis sold their tomatoes at giveaway prices before getting to the market and headed back to Ilorin-Ogbomosho road.
Governor Makinde sues for peace
Meanwhile, Governor ‘Seyi Makinde has promised that his government will ensure that justice is served on all the victims of the crisis that erupted between Hausa and Yoruba residents of Shasha Market of Akinyele Local Government, Ibadan, at the weekend.
The governor disclosed that a judicial panel will also be inaugurated to investigate the crisis, adding that Peace and Security Committees will also be put in place in all the zones of the state with a view to addressing the grievances and ensuring justice is served.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, also quoted the governor as appealing to angry residents of the area to sheathe their swords, warning that whenever the people see the potential dangers of words and actions, they must take precautions, saying: “It is time to think about our self-preservation. It is time to put Oyo State first.”
Governor Makinde, who maintained that contrary to news circulating in the social media, the state government has been able to bring the situation in Shasha under control, stated that the situation has been de-escalated since around 2 p.m. on Saturday, “a curfew was put in place and there has been no further unrest since then.”
The statement indicated that Governor Makinde stated these in a state-wide broadcast aired on the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State, BCOS, on Monday.
The governor warned residents not to take laws into their hands, even as he maintained that the government will deploy all the apparatus available to it to ensure that justice was done.
He said that the incident was unfortunate, adding: “I visited Sasa Market and Ojoo in Akinyele Local Government Area yesterday, and I have met the people affected by the crisis. I am saddened by the loss of lives. I feel your pain. I understand your anger and frustrations. We will make things right.”
The governor’s speech further read: “As I stated yesterday, I have also ordered a full investigation into the immediate cause of the crisis and I promise that all culprits will be brought to book. Our administration will also be providing the needed support to ensure that those who lost their properties to the mayhem are compensated.
“I mourn the loss of lives that has occurred. Even when justice is served, nothing can bring back the dead. That is why I must also state that individuals who have taken to stoking up ethnic flames in Oyo State either through their utterances or actions or posts on social media are enemies of our state.”
He warned individuals leveraging the sad events in the state for political goals to desist, stating that such individuals and those who fan the embers of crisis are not friends of the state.
He said: “The people who have decided to leverage these sad events to further their political goals are not our friends. These people handing us petrol and matches will not stand with us when the fire turns into an inferno.
“When we see the potential dangers of words and actions, we must take precautions. It is time to think about our self-preservation. It is time to put Oyo State first.
“Let me make it clear, the socio-economic prosperity that has existed in Oyo State for about two years since this administration came into office, and the peace and confidence in government we have been building, is under threat. This threat will only succeed if we allow it to happen.”
The governor used the opportunity to commend security officers including the Police, Operation Burst, and the Amotekun Corps for the roles they have been playing in securing the state.
He equally pointed out that individuals doing a disservice to the state and sabotaging its efforts on security will face the wrath of the law, decrying the shooting of an Amotekun Corp by a Divisional Police Officer in Ogbomoso.
He maintained that a judicial panel will be set up to investigate the incident and that anyone found culpable will face the music, saying: “This is how justice works. People should be held accountable for their individual actions. A whole tribe, ethnic group, profession, or gender must not pay for the sins of one individual. It is totally unacceptable for any individual or individuals to take law into their own hands. That is jungle justice. Oyo State is not a jungle. We know that people are angry. People have a right to be angry.
“When the bridge between power and justice is broken, we are bound to witness unrest. But we cannot solve the problems of peaceful co-existence in anger.
“I appeal to every resident of Oyo State to sheath their swords. People have been wronged; I acknowledge this. Therefore, we are moving ahead with setting up the Peace and Security Committees in every zone of Oyo State. Starting today, these committees will be inaugurated. With the Peace and Security Committees, everyone’s grievances will be addressed and culprits will be brought to justice.
“Let me reiterate some people have made this about politics and a way to score political points at the expense of the lives of our people. For me, this is not about politics. This is about securing our lives. This is about preserving Oyo State for our children. This is about our future. Work with me as I work on ways to ensure lasting peace and security in our land.”