Several people have lost their lives after a clash triggered by the fatal stabbing of a cobbler by a cart pusher in Sasha market, Ibadan, Oyo State, degenerated into an ethnic conflict.
The two men had a misunderstanding on Thursday and in the process, the cart pusher, said to be a Hausa man, stabbed the cobbler, said to be a Yoruba man, with a knife.
PREMIUM TIMES could not independently verify the ethnicity of the two men and there is no evidence that their fight was caused by ethnic issues.
The stabbed victim was confirmed dead in a hospital on Friday morning, leading to crisis in the community between the Hausa and the Yorubas, with the latter group trying to avenge the death of their tribesman.
Within hours, the conflict spread beyond the market, as the Hausa and Yoruba communities in Akinyele Local Government Area, where the market is located, went after each other.
Witnesses told PREMIUM TIMES that, at least, six people died from both sides in the reprisal attacks. Various shops and houses were burnt while the market was deserted in the process.
“The reprisal attacks have led to the death of at least six people from the side of the Yorubas and the Hausas. In fact, many people in the community have scampered for safety,” a resident of Akinyele, who simply identified himself as Khalid, said.
Another witness who did not want his name mentioned told PREMIUM TIMES that “no one is safe. People have been rendered homeless. I know of 15 houses that have been razed and you can’t tell if your home is next. What matters is safety, so people have deserted their homes”.
On Saturday morning, some Yoruba thugs blocked various highways, asking passengers to identify their ethnic groups.
Sources told this newspaper that those who were identified as Hausa were forced out of vehicles and attacked by the hoodlums.
“Once you are an Hausa person, you will be dragged down from the car and be killed by the Yorubas who ordinary to them were avenging the death of the cobbler killed by a Hausa man,” a witness, who said he saw several lifeless bodies at Moniya area of Ibadan, told PREMIUM TIMES.
As the killings continued, the military stormed the community in an attempt to stop the reprisal attacks and destruction of properties.
Speaking on the incident, the Oyo State police spokesperson, Olugbenga Fadeyi, who confirmed the incident, said normalcy is gradually returning in the area.
“Massive Police deployment and that of the sister security agencies were made to douse tension. Critical stakeholders have also been consulted to appeal to the people.”
Makinde imposes curfew
In order to forestall breakdown of law and order in the market and its environments, Governor Seyi Makinde on Saturday imposed an indefinite curfew in the area.
The governor in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, said anyone caught perpetrating violence will face the wrath of the law.
“His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde has directed the immediate closure of Shasha market indefinitely following reports of a breach of peace in the area.
“The governor has also approved the imposition of (a) curfew on Shasha. It will run from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. Residents of the affected area are enjoined to go about their legitimate businesses within the hours stipulated by the law.
“Anyone caught disrupting the peace of the community will be made to face the wrath of the law,” the statement read.
Governors, monarch weigh in
The governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, and his counterparts in Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, urged citizens not to allow a misunderstanding to degenerate into violence, maiming, and killing.
Mr Fayemi in a statement by his spokesperson, Yinka Oyebode, said “we do not need any act of violence leading to the unnecessary death of citizens. Now is the time for the leadership of various ethnic nationalities, trading groups, and security agencies to halt the orgy of violence in Shasha area and work towards ensuring peace in different parts of the country.
“We will enjoy enduring peace and progress through dialogue, mutual respect, and understanding for one another. Violence and attendant death and destruction would only spell doom for the country.
“While commending Governor Makinde for his timely intervention in the crisis, we also express our sympathy to families of the victims as well as those who have lost properties and businesses during the crisis,” Mr Fayemi, the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, said.
The Olubadan of Ibadanland, Saliu Adetunji, in a statement also urged people to eschew violence and bitterness by ensuring that minor conflicts do not degenerate to unnecessary tension.
He said “many of our compatriots have been living with each other for a long time. We grow up and attend schools together. People from diverse ethnic groups do inter marry and give birth to lovely children.”
Speaking on the crisis, he said “immediately the report of the crisis got to us in the palace yesterday (Friday), the Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde was the first person I called and we have his promise that appropriate action would be taken as sinners would not go unpunished,” the monarch said.
Nigerians trend #StopKillingNortherners
In response to the clash, Nigerians on social media have been trending #StopKillingNortherners hashtag on Twitter.
Some of the tweets are as follows:
#StopKillingNortherners is a polite call by northern youths to their southern brothers for peace, protection & justice.
Do not harm anyone that is innocent.
Do not destroy their business.
Whenever a criminal is caught, do not apply jungle justice.
Let us stand by each other. pic.twitter.com/TIJVil0iHy
— Dokun Ojomo (@DokunOjomo) February 14, 2021
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