- Vow to resist Hausa/Fulani hegemony
- Fault movement of suspects to Abuja
- Gbonigi, Okorounmu, Afenifere, others react
Prominent Yoruba leaders yesterday reacted angrily to a statement credited to the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, in which he justified the arrest of only suspects of Yoruba extraction over the recent clash in Ile-Ife, Osun State.
The crisis, which resulted in the death of about 46 persons, had led to the arrest over 20 people, who are mainly Yoruba people. This has created so much tension in the South West region with the leaders of the tribe crying foul.
The IGP, while justifying the arrest said crime has no tribe or identity. Idris, who spoke with State House correspondents after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said, the police is going to apply the full weight of the law once criminal cases are established against those arrested irrespective of their tribe.
The IGP, who also absolved the Fulani herdsmen of the recent killings in Zaki-Biam, Benue State, said: “No, I don’t think its Fulani herdsmen, it was an activity of a criminal who is using some of his criminal gangs in the state to harass people, that I have assured the governor when I met with him few days ago”.
Dismissing the allegation of ethnic bias in the arrest made by the police in Ile-Ife, Idris said there was no iota of truth in the reports. “You know we are police officers and crime has no tribe.
If you are a criminal, you are a criminal. Crime has no face. We don’t look at crime in the identity of where you are coming from. As far as you are a criminal and the police find you wanting, we apply the law.
“You know some of these crisis, we have to look at the origin of these crisis and the immediate cause for you to make a proper classification of these crimes. If you follow some of these crimes, they are just crimes that happened without any warning. “If you look at that Ife crisis, if you see how it started, it’s just a disagreement between two people selling food along the road.
So, you have to look at the dynamics of the country itself, obviously when you have such situ-ation we have to react to it. We had to move in to ensure we provide some security to the people,” he said.
Idris said the police and other security agencies were working on the specific directive of the president to use the resources at their disposal to arrest criminality and other untoward developments in the country.
“I gave the president my assurance that we are going to do that, and make sure that some of these incidents we are talking about are brought under control,” the IGP said.
However, those who spoke with Saturday Telegraph faulted the police for arresting and parading 20 Yoruba persons, including a monarch, while lamenting that not a single person of the Hausa/Fulani person was held.
A Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), which had earlier employed the services of prominent Yoruba lawyers to defend those arrested, criticised the police for its action and kicked against the stand of the IGP while insisting that the clash that ensued between the Ifes and the Hausa community about three weeks ago was not one-sided and that justice must be done accordingly.
The group, which spoke through its spokesperson in Osun State, Mr. Kola Olabisi, frowned at the way the arrested ones were paraded when Hausa men who engaged them in a fierce battle and killed some Yoruba men during the fracas were left untouched. “It is unfortunate that, the IGP is saying that.
Are Yorubas criminals when the Hausas they clashed with are not criminals? We wonder why a tribe could be referred to as criminals in a crisis that ensued between two tribes why other tribe could be left unarrested.
“Is the police applying the same law they claimed they applied on the Ifes on the Hausas? If they do so, they should have arrested Hausa people also and paraded them as they did to the Yorubas because both of them caused the mayhem in Ife. “We believe that what is good for the goose should also be good for the gander.
We condemn the police authorities act and described it as witchhunting, unpatriotic and wickedness”. The group also wondered why it was the Yoruba people that were arrested when it was the Hausa/Fulani that caused problem, noting that those that caused the fracas were allowed to go scot-free.
The ARG however called on the IGP to write all wrongs concerning the matter saying, the Yorubas are not second-class citizens to other tribes in the country.
“Inasmuch as Yoruba as a race embraces peace and harmony at all times, that won’t stop us from speaking the truth when matters go crucial. “What is happening now on the arrest of some people from a tribe after crisis between two tribes is a gross segregation, tribalism and nepotism on the part of the Federal Government and the police authorities led by a northerner.”
“For goodness sake,how could Yoruba people alone be arrested when the Hausas that engaged them in a fight that led to killing and maiming are walking round the length and breadth of the town unchallenged? This is unfair and far away from justice.”
Also, an Osogbo-based Yoruba leader and Coordinator of Yoruba Movement For Justice, Prince Adewale Adeniyi, threatened to see that Hausas who perpetrated killing of the Yorubas during the fracas are brought to book.
Adeniyi argued that the IGP should not be for a sectional group in the country but for all tribes, wondering why he could only order the arrest of the Yorubas while the Hausas were left to go.
He said: “If truly crime has neither tribe nor identity as claimed by the IGP, then, he should arrest Hausa people who were the architect of the crisis in Ile-Ife”.
On his part, Hon. Kehinde Ayoola, a former Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly during the administration of the Late Lam Adesina said; “the arrest is uncalled for. Conflict resolution mechanisms like dialogue should have been used.
“The exclusive arrest of Yorubas sent a message that some people are more equal than others. Of course, Yorubas will resist this. I am positive about that”, he said. Also reacting, an Afenifere leader, Senator Femi Okurounmu, flayed the IGP for justifying the arrest of suspects of Yoruba extraction, describing him as “a hypocrite.”
Okurounmu, who served as the chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on National Conference, said the IGP must be told that Nigeria is not a conquered country. According to him, the police chief justified the arrest because he is a Fulani man. He said: “I think it is because we have been silent for too long about this discrimination and they think they can just take the rest of the country for a ride.
“They give the Fulani the liberty to kill other people at will and police do nothing, even when they know the culprits, they don’t arrest. But when the victims begin to react, it is the victims they go after and start to prosecute them. Whether it is Kaduna, Ile-Ife, it’s always the victims trying to defend themselves against aggression that police go after.
“It appears the instructions they have been given by authorities is to treat the Fulanis as sacred cows who belong to a privileged class and can commit atrocities at will against other Nigerians. I think Nigerians have tolerated this for too long and we must now begin to react and let them know that this country belongs to us all.
No life is more sacred than others. “The IGP is behaving as a hypocrite. He sits on top of injustice and condones injustice against other Nigerians because he is a Fulani man himself.
The IGP must be told in clear terms that Nigeria is not a conquered country and he cannot treat us as a conquered people.” In his own response, the Chairman of Yoruba Unity Forum (YUF) and former Bishop of Akure Diocese of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Pa Emmanuel Bolanle Gbonigi kicked against the arrest of Yoruba people and faulted the police for taking them to Abuja in order to parade for the alleged offence.
The octogenarian cleric described the action of the police as clearly against justice saying God is not happy with them for their action. The fiery NADECO Bishop said if it is true that all those arrested and paraded were Yoruba, “the Police are corrupt.
That action is against justice. The God we worship is a God of justice. Without justice, there can’t be peace. Justice is prerogative to peace. While saying the action of the police should be reversed, Gbonigi queried: “Why were they taken to Abuja? Worst things had happened in Kaduna and the people arrested were not taken to Abuja.
It happened in Kano and other places and they were not taken to Abuja. Why were our people taken to Abuja?” Gbonigi urged Buhari to look into the matter and see that justice is done so that people in the South West would not see themselves as secondclass citizens to people in the northern part of the country.
Similarly, the Yoruba Youth Council, (YYC) in Ondo State yesterday described the arrest of Yoruba people as sectional and unacceptable to the youths in the Southwest geo-political zone of the country.
The YYC, a youth arm of the Yoruba Elders Group, also kicked against the way the Federal Government was handling the communal clash in Ile-Ife, Osun State.
The youths in a communiqué issued at the end of its inaugural meeting and read to newsmen in Akure by its Ondo state chairperson, Ewatomilola Emiola Owoeye, condemned the recent arrests done by the police, describing it as one-sided.
It reads: “We observed those paraded at the force headquarters are Yorubas, no Hausa or Fulani were paraded along with them. “We urge the police to with immediate effect transfer those arrested to Osun State where the incident occurred. We also urge the police to conduct proper investigation so as not to arrest innocent Nigerians.”