The Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) has condemned what it termed discriminatory arrests by the police following the ethnic clash between Hausa and indigenes in Ile-Ife, Osun State.
OPC called on the state government to immediately establish a commission of inquiry to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the crisis and fish out those behind it.
Commiserating with the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, on the violence OPC said it was antithetical to the monarch’s untiring quest for peace and unity throughout Yoruba land.
In a statement circulated to media houses, on Thursday, Founder and President of the group, Dr. Frederick Fasehun, said that information at his disposal indicated that the 20 suspects arrested and paraded by police were mainly Yoruba.
OPC said it was an insult to the Yoruba traditional institution that a monarch was hurriedly taken from his palace and paraded alongside the suspects, with all of them hurriedly transported to Abuja.
The organisation particularly came down hard on former Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwanso, whom he accused of racing down to Osun State to “stampede Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola and the Commissioner of Police into this senseless and discriminatory rash of arrests.”
According to the OPC President, a profiling of those currently in police detention connoted a conspiracy between the Federal Government under a Fulani President and the Inspector-General of Police who is also Hausa-Fulani to perpetrate an unjust clampdown on Yoruba people in the area.
He said: “Police and the Federal Government appear determined to make scapegoats of Yoruba living in Ife over this crisis. It is unfortunate, strange and insensitive that two people are fighting and authorities are arresting only one party in this unfortunate mayhem.
“We sympathise with all victims and casualties over this moment of madness that has eroded two centuries of harmonious cohabitation between the Hausa settlers and their Yoruba hosts. But we demand equal treatment of everyone involved on both sides of this crisis.”
The OPC President called for police to fish out all those behind the arson and the killings that engulfed Ile-Ife on March 8.
“What of Yoruba people killed in Ife, will you not bring their obviously Hausa killers to book? What of Yoruba-owned houses and businesses that were burnt and looted, will you not bring their arsonists and looters to justice? Or are you telling the world that Yoruba people killed their own people and burnt down their own houses?” OPC noted.
According to the group, Kwankwanso’s post-violence role in Ife was akin to that played by Retired-General Muhammadu Buhari who in October 2000 travelled to Ibadan to challenge Governor Lam Adesina over the reprisal attack on Fulani herdsmen who had unleashed an orgy of raping and killings on Yoruba farming communities.
“This kind of bias will only embolden belligerent Hausa-Fulani throughout Nigeria and give them pariah status amongst other nationalities,” OPC warned.
The traditional monarch has the function to guarantee peace and if there is conflict, he should make peace between the gladiators.
“”Now that one party in the crisis has been whisked away as criminals, it leaves no room for settlement and the Ooni of Ife has been denied the right to play his traditional role of peacemaker.
Calls for restructuring and true Federalism in Nigeria could not have been better amplified by this one-sided injustice displayed by the Federal Government and its security agents.
“It should be noted that the Yoruba people do not go out of their way to cause crisis and they are usually submissive in the face of one, which is why they are sometimes erroneously labelled as cowards.
“But if circumstances push them to respond to this type of provocation, their anger becomes unstoppable and history tells us it could take on a national dimension.
“The Federal government must do justice, and be seen to have done justice, to both sides. But so far, this perfunctory display of injustice is not a feature of true democracy.
“We hereby call on the Federal Government to intervene within the next 48 hours to ensure that justice is institutionalised and no side is provoked to defend justice according to its whims and caprices. Various communities have Abraham as their father. A word is enough for the wise.”
He decried the failure of the police and the Federal Government to dislodge Fulani herdsmen who since 2016 invaded and occupied the Agatu and Oturkpo communities in Benue State and parts of Enugu State.
“Where are those Hausa-Fulani who went on a killing spree in Southern Kaduna, Agatu and Chief Olu Falae’s farm? Are they untouchable? The Federal Government and the police should stop behaving as if Nigeria is the Hausa-Fulani’s conquered territory where they can kill and maim and rape at will,” OPC said. “This posturing will only embolden the evil doers and force their victims to defend themselves by resorting to self-help reprisals.”