By Yinka Kolawole
Less than three weeks after a communal clash that claimed many lives and destroyed buildings numbering about 30 in Ile-Ife, Osun State, a fresh communal clash, again broke out Thursday in Ife North Local Government Area of the state, with no fewer than ten persons injured and a popular market, Akinola, razed.
This, however, came at a time a former Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa donated the sum of N10 million to the Hausa community affected in the March 8 Ile-Ife crisis as part of supports to ameliorate their losses.
But the fresh clash which was between the people of Ipetumodu and Asipa in Ife north area of the state, was said to have started on Wednesday evening, shortly after a misunderstanding that broke out in the aftermath of an inter-house sports football competition in Community High School, Ipetumodu, not far away from Asipa.
The melee, THISDAY learnt, involved youths from both communities. It was further gathered that some unidentified youths also came and set ablaze the popular Akinola Market in Asipa, a development that escalated the crisis between the two communities.
The establishment of the Akinola Market on a disputed portion of land, it will be recalled, had sparked off crisis last year in the area.
Several gun shots, it was gathered, were fired into the air in the heat of the clash, thus heightening tension in the area. Though some policemen have since been drafted to the area to maintain law and order, nevertheless, no fewer than ten people sustained injuries of different degrees.
One of the traditional chiefs, who did not want to be put on record, blamed the Asipa community, saying they turned mere school riot to community clash and burning of the market. He alleged that it was not the first time such attack would be carried out against his people.
But a chieftain of Asipa, Julius Ogerinde, denied the allegation, saying the other community was aggrieved because of the government white paper on the disputed land, which favoured them.
“They only used the avenue of the inter-house sports competition to perpetrate their grievance and three of our people were shot,” he said.
When contacted, the Police Public Relation Officer, Mrs. Folashade Odoro confirmed the clash and said policemen had been drafted to the area to maintain law and order. She said normalcy had since returned to the area.
Similarly, the state government, yesterday, said security agencies had resolved the crisis between the two communities. A statement by the Bureau of Communication and Strategy, said the disagreement between the two neighbouring communities was immediately put under check before any form of escalation.
The statement, signed by the Bureau’s Director, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, explained that the Asipa/Ipetumodu disagreement has nothing to do with the recent crisis, which erupted as a result of the activities of some miscreants within the Yoruba and the Hausa communities in Ile-Ife.
“The Asipa and Ipetumodu communities are brothers and the communities have existed for centuries as brother communities. Government has been on top of issues causing the disagreement and we are convinced that our efforts have yielded the needed peace. What happened in the early hours of Friday was no more than another little disagreement which was nipped in the bud.
“Security agencies have ensured the return of normalcy and the residents are now going about their normal daily activities. Leaders of the two communities left on the assurances that they would ensure peace and continue to live in peace. The Government has also sounded a stern note of warning on troublemakers as security agencies are poised to deal decisively with anyone caught involved in the breach of public peace,” the statement stated.
However, Bafarawa, who visited the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, said the gesture was to cushion the suffering of the Hausa community. He therefore stressed the need for Nigerians to live in peace with one another in order to move the country forward.
“We must be our brother’s keepers and not be fighting, killing or maiming as we are all in one way or the other depend on one another,” he said through the leader of the delegation, Abubakar Sadiq Sanyinna, and commiserated with the people of the area over the loss of lives and property as a result of the clash.
He appreciated the warm reception extended to the delegation by the state government, the Ooni of Ife and the Hausa Community.
Oba Ogunwusi described Bafarawa as a man of honour, peace and unity among his contemporaries, saying Bafarawa remained one of the few politicians committed to sustaining political cohesion in the country. He appreciated the cash donation of N10 million given to the Hausa community and urged other prominent Nigerians to emulate Bafarawa’s gesture of assisting the victims.
“We remain very grateful for this donation. Bafarawa is an embodiment of peace and unity and we urge other well-to-do Nigerians to emulate him,” he added.
Those on the delegation with Bafarawa included Alhaji Yusuf Dingyadi, Alhaji Nasiru Bafarawa, Alhaji Sani Kabir, Sarkin Hausawa and other Hausawa community leaders from the southern part of the country.
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