• Houses razed, businesses paralysed
By Christopher Oji
Two children were among 15 persons who lost their lives and property worth several millions of Naira destroyed during a clash between Hausa and Yoruba in Mile 12 market, Lagos yesterday.
The clash was triggered off by the action of a commercial motorcycle operator (Okada) rider, who killed a female commuter.
He was said to be fleeing from some motorcycle touts, who wanted to force him to collect ticket from the local government officials.
A witness, Ben Makinde, said, “when the Okada man knocked down the woman he was asked to take her to the hospital, but the Okada rider refused, insisting that he did not hit the woman deliberately. That was on Tuesday.
“Today (Thursday) there was a shocking news that the woman died. When we received the news, Yoruba felt enough was enough as they said the Hausa Okada riders have taken laws into their hands and went for revenge.
“Not knowing that the Hausa people were battle-ready, they resisted the atack. Many people were killed. Many houses were burnt and vehicles torched.
“In fact, some hoodlums hijacked the situation and started robbing innocent people going about their normal businesses,” he said.
Another witness, Mallam Idris, said, “the scenario was like a movie. I have never seen this kind of violence since I was born. I was born in Lagos, I hate what I witnessed. We were living and trading together in peace but, today, I saw friends killing friends.”
Idris said, “many houses were burnt, but I cannot say how many people were killed and others injured. I think about 17 persons were killed.”
When Daily Sun visited the scene, the place was deserted, down to Ketu bus-stop.
Commercial activities were grounded while perishable goods like tomatoes, onions and pepper littered the streets.
Vehicles and some houses were still burning in streets like Agiliti, Oniyanrin Ilaje and Akoronfayo.
At the Agiliti bridge, two dead bodies were on the road while two were at Oniyanrin and Akoronfayo respectively.
A motor mechanic John Belonwu told Daily Sun that two school children were killed.
A victim who was a driver with the Lagos State Government, Sunday Ngo, said, eight houses, including his own were torched. We could not retrieve a pin. My house is on Oniyanrin Street. My family have relocated to Ajegunle, near Ikorodu. We do not have a place to rest our heads.
“I was in the office when my wife called me on phone. You can see my wife crying because, everything we had were burnt to ashes. The only property we have are the clothes and shoes that we are putting on. Well, I thank God that we are still alive, at lease 15 persons have died.”
As at Press time, combined team of the police, Army and other security agencies have taken over the area.
Banks and other business places were shut.
The crisis spread to neighbouring Ketu as business places including banks were also closed. At the Ilaje Street, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni who was flanked by senior police officers including the Commander, Rapid Response Squad (RRS), Mr. Tunji Disu, told journalists that only three persons were killed.
He said: “I cannot confirm what I did not see. People said, many people were killed but I only saw three bodies. Three persons died, but we cannot quantify the damage now.
“What I am assuring you is that we have taken control of the situation. There is restriction or movement and we must maintain law and order,” he said.
However, soldiers in the scene were seen searching passersby. Commuters were asked to keep their two hands up while passing the trouble spots.
Ambode orders temporary closure of market, restricts movement
• Confirms arrest of 50 Suspects
By Ola Agbaje
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, yesterday, ordered temporary closure of the Mile 12 market, following a clash.
The governor also announced the restriction of movement on four streets in the area. The streets are Oniyanrin, Maidan, Agiliti 1 and Agiliti 2.
Addressing reporters at Alausa, Ambode said the decision to shut the market and restrict movement was to assist security agencies restore calm in the area.
“In order to further restore calm, I have ordered that Mile 12 market be temporarily closed and urged traders, community leaders and other stakeholders to eschew violence; be calm and law-abiding.
“Furthermore, I have also ordered a temporary restriction of movement in the following streets; Oniyanri Street, Maidan Street, Agiliti 1 and Agiliti 2,” he said.
The governor said the police and other security operatives have been deployed in the area, assuring residents that peace has been restored.
“Today, I have just been informed that some miscreants and criminal elements have exploited that dispute to cause a breakdown of law and order within the area. These types of clashes do occur from time to time in a multi-ethnic city like Lagos and the government has responded appropriately.
“The public is hereby assured that we will not shy away from our responsibilities to protect lives and property and we will deal decisively with those criminal elements who fan the embers of ethnic strive”.
The governor said he had received reports from the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, and security agencies who are on ground, saying the situation has been substantially put under control.
He also reiterated that the state will continue to be home to every Nigerian irrespective of their tribe or ethic affiliation, urging residents to continue to be law- abiding.
“Let me assure Lagosians that the state is home to every tribe and ethnic group and nobody should give this disturbance any ethnic coloration whatsoever. Every law- abiding citizen should go about their normal businesses,” Governor Ambode said.
Also speaking, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Owoseni said the police have brought the situation under control, adding that the police have moved in to enforce the order by the government.
He said there was no iota of truth in the rumours that two persons were killed during the clash.
“The restriction is starting right away and it will be so until the situation normalizes completely. I was there personally I did not witness anybody killed. I was there all through before I came here. The situation is calm; people that were agitating have been cleared off the road. The roads are clear and as I am talking to you, substantial arrests have been made and I can assure the public that those involved in that violence will be brought to justice,” the CP said.
Owoseni dismissed reports that there was a fire outbreak in Mile 12 market, adding that over 50 suspects have been arrested.