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Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun state has described the Ile-Ife crisis as an ugly development, and a breach of public peace, which was masterminded by hoodlums and criminals and led to loss of lives and property.
According to him, the crisis is not an inter-ethnic, inter religious or inter regional conflict as widely speculated.
Aregbesola made this known at the inauguration of a six-man commission of inquiry into the civil disturbances in Ile-Ife.
The governor urged Nigerians to therefore disabuse their minds of ethnic bias by denying the narrative of inter-ethnic conflict between the Yoruba and Hausa community in Ile Ife, because it was not.
He said: “The peace and serenity of Sabo, a section of this ancient city of Ile Ife was shattered when violence erupted among some hoodlums, leading regrettably to loss of lives and destruction of property. May the souls of the departed find eternal repose and may the peace of the Almighty God reign supreme in Osun and in our nation.
“The state government of Osun, the then Acting President and law enforcement agencies immediately stepped into the matter. Normalcy and peace were immediately restored to the affected area. The police have arrested some suspects. Some were immediately released when sufficient ground for their continued retention could not be established. The police and other law enforcement agencies have assured all of even-handedness and that the rule of law will be strictly adhered to and prevail. We owe them support and the need for patience until the final outcome, since investigation into the matter continues.
“In light of ongoing investigation, therefore, we do not want to pre-empt the outcome by making statements prejudicial to the efforts of the law enforcement agencies. However, we have no doubt that this is not an inter-ethnic, inter religious or inter regional conflict by any stretch of the imagination. It was just an ugly development, a breach of public peace, masterminded by hoodlums and criminals resulting to loss of lives and property.”
He added: “While not denying the political and economic roots of conflicts in our land, every infraction of the law is primarily a law and order matter. Even while we seek political solutions to a problem, the first line of approach is law enforcement. This is why even our armed forces, armed and ready to be deployed in war, are technically instruments for enforcing laws, protecting our territorial integrity and promoting our foreign policies.
“We should all therefore disabuse our minds of ethnic bias by denying the narrative of inter-ethnic conflict between the Yoruba and Hausa community in Ile Ife, because it was not. It is the duty of government to guarantee the welfare and security of all people in its area of jurisdiction. This we shall do to the best of our ability and with all the resources at our disposal, without fear or favour.
“Some people, for reasons best known to them, might decide to fan the embers of discord, division, even separation and incite one group against another, with a false narrative of Yoruba-Hausa conflict and call to arms. They are wrong and have to be unhinged in their bid to promote needless strive and protracted inter-ethnic crisis.”
However, the governor admitted that he was disturbed that the use of arms and weapons were deployed during the crisis.
In his words: “The report that small arms and light weapons were deployed freely during the crisis was disturbing and frightening. It has implication for security of lives and property and the potential for more conflicts beyond the immediate theatre of war, if not nipped in the bud. I want you to look into this. The sources and the current location of these arms and their custodians should be investigated and determined. They should all be recovered.
“There are also reports that cultists who have no regard for human lives were recruited into the mayhem for a fee. This is most disheartening.
“We want justice for all, like Martin Luther King Jr, once said, ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream’, to the victims and the perpetrators alike.”
We recalls that the police after the Ile-Ife crisis, arrested 39 suspects and paraded 21 of them after investigations led to evidence against them.
A check of the names of the arrested suspects who were paraded indicated that all of them were Yoruba, but the police spokesman denied that the investigation was targeted at a particular group.