Abuja (Sundiata Post) — Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd), has said miscreants were behind the March 8 crisis that led to the clash between Yoruba and Hausa traders in the Sabo area of Ile-Ife in Osun State.
He has disclosed that security agencies were on their trail to effect their arrest and bring them to book for disrupting the peace between the two communities.
The clash, which is said to have claimed close to a dozen lives and several properties destroyed, forced the State government to declare a two-day curfew in Ile-Ife.
There are two different versions as to the real cause of the clash, one version stated that trouble started when an Hausa man living in Sabo area of the town was allegedly accused of having love affair with the wife of an Ife man who reportedly went over-boards when he discovered what happened.
Another version had it that trouble started, after a vehicle driven by a Yoruba man hit the wife of a Hausa trader.
Some youths were said to have attacked the driver with machete.
The situation was temporarily resolved, but members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) chose to fight back.
The security agents deployed in the town were said to have foiled an attempt of aggrieved Yoruba residents to gain access into Sabo community, which is predominantly occupied by Hausa people.
The angry mob then stormed Lagere, a neighbouring community, and attacked Hausa traders there.
Dambazzau, who spoke to newsmen at the weekend, condemned the extent of damage describing it as sad that the cordial relationship between the Yoruba, Hausa communities which has existed for the past 200 years has been broken as a result of the activities of the miscreants.
According to him, government has started engaging with the leaders of the communities in order to bring lasting peace to the communities.
Dambazau who visited the area on his return from South Africa where he was part of a delegation to address the xenophobic attack on Nigerians in that country, said he was received by the Osun State Deptuy governor, Titilayo Laoye Tomori.
He said after engaging the leaders of the two communities, “It is very clear that this issue is not about crisis between Hausa community and Yoruba community in Ife. The Hausa community has been leaving in Ife close to 200 years. I understand that the first settlers arrived in 1820 and this is about the 4th or 5th generation. They have never experienced this kind of thing until now. So it is not about ethnic issue. It is about a bunch of people who decided to constitute themselves as nuisance to carry out this dastardly act. Quite a number of them escaped from the community.
“So we made them understand that they should not look at it from the point of ethnicity and they all agreed. We also emphasis the need to remain in peace and the issue of revenge, reprisal shouldn’t come to anybody’s mind because the government is handling the situation and those who are found to be involved and deliberately attack and take people’s lives and destroyed properties will be dealt with in accordance with the law.
“We made them understand that the government is up and doing, the government is taking up its responsibility in ensuring that it protects lives and properties because in accordance with chapter two of the constitution, the purpose of government is protection of lives and properties”.
The Interior Minister said he and his delegation also moved to Ibadan the same day and met with all the leaderships of Hausa community in the South West.
“We discussed all the issues and that they discuss with their people on the need for peaceful co-existence”.