From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Minister of Interior Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (Rtd.) has said that suspects in the March 8 clash between Yoruba and Hausa traders in Ile-Ife, Osun State would face trial.
He has disclosed that security agencies were on their trail to arrest and bring them to trial for disrupting the peace between two communities.
The clash that reportedly claimed about a dozen lives and several properties forced the state government to declare a two-day curfew in Ile-Ife.
There are two versions on the cause of the clash. One version is that trouble started when an Hausa man living in Sabo area of the town was allegedly accused of having love affair with the wife of an Ife man who reportedly went over-boards when he discovered what happened.
Another version is that a vehicle driven by a Yoruba man hit the wife of a Hausa trader and in response, some youths allegedly attacked the driver with machete.
The situation was temporarily resolved, but members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) chose to fight back.
The security agents deployed in the town were said to have foiled an attempt of aggrieved Yoruba residents to gain access into Sabo community, which is predominantly occupied by Hausa people.
The angry mob then stormed Lagere, a neighbouring community, and attacked Hausa traders there.
Dambazzau who spoke to newsmen at the weekend, condemned the extent of damage describing it as sad that the cordial relationship between the Yoruba, Hausa communities which has existed for the past 200 years has been broken as a result of the activities of the miscreants.
According to him, government has started engaging with the leaders of the communities in order to bring lasting peace to the communities,
Dambazau who visited the area on his return from South Africa where he was part of a delegation to address the xenophobic attack on Nigerians in that country, said he was received by the Osun State Deptuy Governor, Mrs. itilayo Laoye Tomori,
He said after engaging the leaders of the two communities, “It is very clear that this issue is not about crisis between Hausa community and Yoruba community in Ife. The Hausa community has been leaving in Ife close to 200 years. I understand that the first settlers arrived in 1820 and this is about the 4th or 5th generation. They have never experienced this kind of thing until now. So it is not about ethnic issue. It is about a bunch of people who decided to constitute themselves as nuisance to carry out this dastardly act. Quite a number of them escaped from the community.
“So we made them understand that they should not look at it from the point of ethnicity and they all agreed. We also emphasis the need to remain in peace and the issue of revenge, reprisal shouldn’t come to anybody’s mind because the government is handling the situation and those who are found to be involved and deliberately attack and take people’s lives and destroyed properties will be dealt with in accordance with the law.
“We made them understand that the government is up and doing, the government is taking up its responsibility in ensuring that it protects lives and properties because in accordance with chapter two of the constitution, the purpose of government is protection of lives and properties”.
The Interior Minister said he and his delegation also moved to Ibadan the same day and met with all the leaderships of Hausa community in the South West.
“We discussed all the issues and that they discuss with their people on the need for peaceful co-existence”.