Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, on Wednesday described the recent provocation and ethnic killings in Ile-Ife, which is the cradle of Yoruba, as continuation of various assaults and killings by Fulani herdsmen in various Yoruba communities in Ogun, Ekiti and Ondo.
Afenifere said this in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yinka Odumakin, declaring that the latest sad episode in which one-sided arrests were made of Yoruba with the police authorities looking the other way while the killings took place had presented an opportunity to resolve this matter of conflict between Yoruba people and the Fulani once and for all.
According to the group, this is because as an agrarian people in spite of other callings, Yoruba people can no longer send their wives to the farms early in the morning to go and do various kinds of harvesting without fear of their being raped or killed by Fulani invaders who roam around with their cattle destroying farmlands, attacking the villages and killing Yoruba people.
“This provocation and killing in our cradle is a continuation of various assaults and killings by Fulani herdsmen in various Yoruba communities in Yewa area of Ogun state, Oke Ogun in Oyo State, Ekiti communities and violent abduction of Chief Olu Falae and the killing of his farm hands with the security operatives being of little or no assistance at all.
“The latest assault which led to Ife crisis has, therefore, presented us with an opportunity to resolve this matter of conflict between our people and the Fulani once and for all. We are mainly an agrarian people in spite of our other callings, whose way of life are now being disrupted by people who roam around with cattle destroying our farmlands, attacking our villages and killing our people.
“It is our way of life to send our wives to the farms early in the morning to go and do various kind of harvesting, but we can’t do that anymore for fear of their being raped or killed by invaders on our land. Our ways of lives are being violently violated with sheer impunity. We shall not take it anymore,” Afenifere said.
The group noted that leading citizens of Yoruba nation were grieved by the recent disturbance in Ile Ife, the cradle of Yoruba civilization and its aftermath which had left many dead against the normal character of the race that the whole world acknowledges welcome foreigners into their midst and also go the extra mile to make them happy.
It further noted that the Arewa community in Ife had a record of over 80 years stay in the ancient city and had never come under attacks of any sort not even when there were serious disturbances between the local communities, declaring that the Sabo area was a safe place to be in those disturbing days.
“This is why it is very important to interrogate the cause of the recent disturbance,” the group demanded.
Afenifere, while commending the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, for physically going to the scene of conflict to quell the conflict and secure those who were seized in the course of fighting from coming under any harm, said such was demonstration of the Yoruba character as no foreign person could have walked into the burning scene to save lives the way Kabiyesi did.
“This vindicates our position that our security would be better provided for when Nigeria learns to localise law enforcement,” the group declared.
Afenifere, while speaking on the cause of the crisis, said its investigations and eyewitness reports indicated there was a serious provocation which bordered on assault on a Yoruba woman by a member of the Arewa community.
It said such assault attracted reaction from the husband of the assaulted woman and his friends on the night of 7th of March, 2017, while the Ife traditional authorities alerted the police immediately to step into the matter, but the Area Commander failed to act on the community’s request.
“An Osun State police would have been more responsive if Nigeria were to run a proper federation,” the group further said.
The group continued: “The fight resumed on the morning of 8th. The first casualty was killed by members of Arewa community by the name Busuyi Kayode a.k.a Aperin whose corpse was put in a wheel barrow. Next was Elijah Balogun, who was killed by the stray bullet of SAS policemen with a vehicle marked 109.
“The most provocative killing was a vulcanizer whose head was severed. Members of the Arewa started parading his severed head on a stick reminiscent of the Akaluka incident in Kano years ago. This gory sight provoked a reaction from the local community in which deaths were recorded on both sides.
“The Ife leaders have been worried stiff for some time by recent influx of Fulani people into the town in trailers with some of these strangers identified as Niger Republic imports. The apprehension was that many of these elements could be Boko Haram elements,” Afenifere said.
The pan-Yoruba socio-political group, therefore, demanded that the Federal Government should sit with it urgently, and with other nationalities affected as well as other people who might be interested in resolving this matter without further delay.
“We, therefore, demand that the Federal Government should sit with us urgently, and with other nationalities affected and who may be interested in resolving this matter without further delay,” Afenifere said.
On the arrest, Afenifere expressed disappointment with what it described as one-sided mass arrests of Yoruba people who are mostly notables and could never have participated in any riot.
According to Afenifere, those arrested and are still in the custody of in either Osogbo, the Osun State capital or Abuja, the Federal Capital, are: Oba Ademola Ademiluyi (Alapoje of Alapoje), Alhaji Yekini Saka (an undergraduate of OAU, Ile-Ife), Oshowade Lukman, Adigun Osuolale, Eludoyin Francis, Sakiru Jimoh, Seye Akinyobo, Samson Makinde, Adelegan Kehinde, Isaac Omisanmi, Peter Omisope, Daniel Olanrewaju, Isaac Adefisan, Monday Adejumo and Dele a.ka D. Bamson.
“We seriously object to a one-sided arrest in a clash between two groups in this undue deployment of Federal influence along fault lines. But we are further disturbed that people who were arrested for an offence allegedly committed in Ife are being bundled up to Abuja for nothing but sheer intimidation. What information can Abuja gather on a fight in Ife? Can you charge anybody in an Abuja court for a crime allegedly committed in Ife? Since the answers to the above questions are in the negative, we demand that all those taken to Abuja should be returned to Osun State immediately.
“We call on the governors of Yorubaland to rise up and defend the rights of our people to live peacefully on their land in a secured environment. They cannot afford to fail their people in these terrible times.
“We also appeal to the governor of Osun to ensure that there will be no official prejudging the Ife crisis until proper investigations are conducted.
“Finally, we wish to commend the words of Sheik Usman Dan Fodio to the Nigerian government at this period that, ‘One of the swiftest ways to destroy a kingdom is to give preference to one particular tribe over another, or to show favour to one group of people rather than another, and to draw near those who should be kept away and keep away those who should be drawn near,’” the Afenifere warned.