President Muhammadu Buhari has broken silence on the ethnic violence tearing through some parts of the country, warning that any Nigerian stoking violence through ethnic hatred would be dealt with decisively.
In a statement issued on Sunday by Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, Buhari said his administration is committed to ensuring the security of all Nigerians, irrespective of religious affiliation or ethnicity.
There was a clash among residents of Shasha community in Oyo last week, following an argument between a Yoruba man and a Hausa resident.
The clash led to violence, which resulted in the destruction of properties and several deaths.
The crisis had led to tension in the area, with unconfirmed reports flooding social media platforms of multiple attacks against persons in Oyo, based on ethnicity.
However, according to the president, such ethnic hatred would not be tolerated.
He also called on governors, religious leaders, traditional rulers, among others, to endeavour to promote peaceful coexistence in their communities.
“Our government will protect all religious and ethnic groups in Nigeria, whether majority or minority, in line with our responsibility under the constitution,” Buhari said.
“We will not allow any ethnic or religious group to stoke hatred and violence against other groups.
“I appeal to religious and traditional leaders, as well as Governors and other elected leaders across the country, to join hands with the Federal Government to ensure that communities in their domain are not splintered along ethnic and other primordial lines.”
Herdsmen took up arms to defend themselves against brutality – Islamic cleric, Gumi
This is as Ahmad Gumi, a prominent Islamic cleric, has said herdsmen had to take up arms to defend themselves against brutality, since the government neglected them.
The cleric had described bandits as very shy people, who are only interested in their cows.
Speaking when he featured on Politics on Sunday, a programme on TVC, he also blamed Nigerians for contributing to insecurity.
Gumi was responding to a question on whether political leaders could be blamed for refusing to address the complaints of bandits about extrajudicial killings by law enforcement agents, as witnessed during the #EndSARS protests, which kicked against police harassment.
“I blame everybody, from the President to you, the man speaking. I blame everybody. It is a combination of small, small issues here and there that produced this monster. Everybody is at fault. I don’t want any Nigerian to exonerate himself,” Gumi said.
“The media plays a part by polarising the nation. Even journalists helped in stirring this ethnic chauvinism we see all over the country. Government has neglected these people all along and they were using a hammer to kill a fly.
“To the southern Nigerians, #EndSARS is not a reason to understand why these herdsmen took up weapons. They were brutalised by the military, not only the police, for a lot of time, and not only in this regime. We should not be surprised.”
Oyo Crisis: 20 Buried In Ibadan, 5,000 Take Refuge
At least 11 people have been reported buried on Sunday in the aftermath of Friday’s altercation between Hausa and Yoruba traders at Shasa Market in Akinyele Local Government Area, Oyo State.
Also, about 5,000 Hausa traders, women and children displaced by the violence were still taking refuge at the residence of the Sarkin Shasa, Alhaji Haruna Maiyasin, and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in Ibadan, Daily Trust reports.
According to the newspaper, the Sarkin Sasa said 11 victims were prepared for burial in his compound. A source in the Hausa community said 20 killed persons were buried at the Akinyele Graveyard in the state capital.
The charred remains of 8 other people killed during the crisis were still at the police station in the Shasha area, as of Sunday evening.
“You can hear the noise, they are still here,” Alhaji Maiyasin told Daily Trust by telephone. He said the refuges in his residence were up to 3,000.
It was further reported that there was still tension in the town and traders from both sides count losses.
Governors booed in Shasa
Meanwhile, the residents of Shasha on Sunday booed the governor of the state, Engr. Seyi Makinde and his Ondo state counterpart, Rotimi Akeredolu, for Makinde’s lateness to visit the troubled area.
On arrival, Yoruba residents in the area insisted that the governors must not see the Sarkin Sasa, for the leader’s alleged failure to caution his subjects when the crisis started three days ago.
The two governors, who arrived Shasha around 2:30pm, were forced to make a retreat to instead visit the Baale of Shasha.
A Hausa resident, Hassan who said many of his friends had been killed in the unrest said the governor forgot that the Hausa community also voted for him in 2019.
Many of the residents reportedly told Daily Trust that they have been informed not to rely on the police for protection, rather they were to prepare for any attack from the hoodlums.
Residents wondered why no arrest has been made since Thursday that people have been killing each other in Shasha area of the state.
Another resident, Haruna Baba, told our correspondent that a reliable source told them that those who perpetrate arson in Shasa are coming to attack them at the main Sabo in Mokola.
“You can see how people are gathering discussing the issue. They have killed many of our people. Those who have gone in seeking for refuge have gone to many places. Some have gone to Oyo while some are in Eleyele. Your source that told you that refugees are up to 5,000 is correct. They are many,” he said.
A resident, Akinyemi Kazeem blamed poor leadership in the state on the crisis, which started since Thursday but was not properly quelled.
Makinde, Akeredolu sue for peace
In their respective speeches during the visit to Shasha, Governors Makinde and Akeredolu appealed for calm and peaceful coexistence between the Hausa community and their Yoruba hosts.
The two governors who spoke at the Shasha market and the palace of the Baale Shasha, urged the residents of the community and Oyo State, to stop taking laws into their hands.
Speaking at the market, Governor Makinde promised to give palliatives to those whose wares were affected during the crisis, adding that the two factions have to eshew violence and allow peace to reign.
He said: “Please, I want you to listen to me clearly. You cannot resort to self-help to solve the issue on ground. All of you who are here are doing business with one another in one way or the other.
“The last time I came here, about six weeks ago, some shops belonging to Hausa and Yoruba people got burnt.
“So, you have been living together peacefully and all I am pleading to you is, no matter what is making anyone angry, we will solve it with patience.
“I was reluctant to declare curfew here because I feel the economic wellbeing of everyone here is important, and because this is where you get what you use to feed yourselves. I will engage with your leaders this evening. One thing is, if you allow those who don’t have anything to lose here to blow this matter out of proportion, no one will be able to say where the crisis will end. By the grace of God, I pray we don’t lose any more lives.
“We must not lose any life needlessly anymore. What the government will do to ensure that those whose houses, shops were burnt, we will rebuilt immediately. “But please, I beg of you, let us stop fighting with ourselves. I can assure you that we will deal with the situation.
“We must continue to maintain the peace here. Those who are hoodlums here will be dealt with but those who are law-abiding will be compensated for what they have lost.”
Similarly, Governor Akeredolu said that he was in Oyo State on behalf of the South West Governors.
Displaced persons taking refuge at the residence of Sarkin Shasa in Ibadan
He said that every aggrieved party must stop fighting and allow peace to reign.
“Concerning the issue on ground, we have come to beg you. We have been living together for a very long time and this is not the time to start fighting ourselves. So, let us consider that. There are some things that could be making us angry but don’t let us look at that because things cannot be like this forever
“Though we are here in our fatherland, our own sons and daughters are in another person’s fatherland. So, let us think about this and continue to live in peace with one another. We don’t need to fight ourselves.
“We have security agencies that you can call their attention to any issue that could cause crisis. Let us not take law into our hands. I have a brother in Abuja and others living in Hausaland.”
The chairman of South West Governors’ Forum said: “Also, let us cooperate with the governor here. If there are things we have done wrong, forgive us.”
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