Warring Osun Communities State Conditions For Peace

Visit to Ipetu & Ashipa - 2The two parties to the crisis rocking Ipetumodu and Ashipa communities in Ife North Local Government Area of Osun State have presented their positions to the commission of inquiry set up the state government to look into the matter, ADESOJI ADENIYI reports.

There is a semblance of peace in Ipetumodi and Ashipa, the two communities in Ife North Local Government Area of Osun State that literally went to war recently over their common boundary.

But beneath the relative peace is the hardening of positions by the two warring parties as both communities have stuck to their guns on the issues that brought about the violent clashes in the area last month during which no fewer than 20 people were severely injured and properties destroyed on both sides.

The peace was restored at the instance of the Osun State government which has set up a six-member judicial commission of inquiry to look into the crisis and proffer lasting solutions. The commission is headed by Justice Jide Falola of the State High Court.

The commission, The Nation gathered had received memoranda from interested parties to the dispute, especially leaders of the two warring communities stating the position of their people.

It was gathered that the Ipetumodus in their memorandum are demanding among other things that the Ashipa people should stop their aggression against their community.

Speaking with The Nation on condition of anonymity, a leader of Ipetumodu disclosed that the Supreme Court’s judgment of 1984 on their disputed boundary was in favour of Ipetumodu.

As a result, he said, the Ipetumodus are demanding that the boundary between their community and the Ashipa community should remain the Okooko River and must not be extended as the people of Ashipa are demanding.

He said it was an insult for the people of Ashipa to want to claim the land that belongs to the Ipetumodus. In his words: “The land which the people of Ashipa are fighting over belongs to Pa Ayoola of Ajae Compound in Ipetumodu. The family took the Adeniyi Odofin family of Ashipa to court and was favoured by the Supreme Court judgment of 1984. The case was not between the people of Ipetumodu and people of Ashipa but between two families in the two communities. The case started from the Customary Court and ended in favour of the Ipetumodu indigene at the Supreme Court. So, what are the people of Ashipa looking for on the land if not trouble?”

Speaking on the clash of the market day in the two separate markets in the two communities, the Ipetumodu leader said his people would neither agree to a shift in their own market day nor a shift in its location. He insisted that the new market at Ipetumodu must remain because the community consulted the Ifa oracle before arriving at the name, the date of trading and location of the market.

He said there should not be any reason for anyone to start crying over the coincidence of the day of trading at the newly created Akinola market in Ipetumodu with that of Ashipa market.

According to him, the Apetumodu together with his chiefs made spiritual consultations before the market was established where it is now and the time for trading in the market. “Today we are in a competitive world and no one should complain that our market day is the same with theirs. Is that a crime, requiring violence? Not far from us there are many markets sharing the same day for trading and there is no problem. For instance, market day at Obada market in Ipetumodu coincides with that of Edun-Abon and Owode markets. Olufi Market day coincides with Moro market Day, likewise Sekona Market Day coinciding with Akinlalu market Day. Also, Ode-Omu Market Day coincides with that of Ashipa Market. The Akinlalu and Moro markets’ Day too coincides.

He said hitherto the people of Ipetumodu and Ashipa were friendly and trading together in same market until the Ashipa (people) started being hostile to the Ipetumodus after the latter had helped developed and gave life to their (Ashipa) market. According to him, when the Ipetumodus could not cope with the hostility they decided after consulting the Ifa oracle to establish their own market on Akinola land within Ipetumodu and named it Akinola market.

Ashipa’s position now

Speaking on their demand before the commission of inquiry, a leader of the Ashipa community Ojediran Olaleke said his people want the Ipetumodus to vacate the disputed land which he claim to be a Ashipa territory while the boundary between the two communities should also be extended beyond the Okooko River. He said the Ipetumodus should stop invading Ashipa land and allow peace to reign in the area.

According to him, the Ashipas are peace-loving people and therefore maintained that their demands are realistic.

On the clash of market day, he said the Ipetumodus deliberately chose the market day of their new market to coincide with that of Ashipa Market in order to ‘kill’ the Ashipa Market. He therefore demanded that the Ipetumodu market day should be changed.

He also alleged that the people of Ipetumodu are kidnapping Ashipa people and demanded that this must stop for peace to reign in the area. He insisted that the people of Ipetumodu must listen to the paramount ruler of the area, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, and ensure there is peace.

At the commission of inquiry

The two warring parties last week appeared before the commission of inquiry where their representatives continued to trade accusations.

Counsel to the Ashipa community, Mr. Funminiyi Adeyemi, asked the commission to recommend the removal of the Akinola Market from Ashipa territory identifying the location and the market day as the cause of the crisis. He said the removal of the market could provide a solution to the crisis between the two communities.

Appealing to the state government through the panel  to render assistance to the victims of the crisis, he submitted that those linked to the crisis and  already apprehended by law enforcement agents should be prosecuted to serve as deterrent to other would be troublemakers.

But counsel to Ipetumodu community, Chief Afolabi Adedeji, in his submission faulted Ashipa’s demands for removal of the Akinola market. Adedeji asserted that the power to shift the market was beyond the discretion of the panel. Also, Ipetumodu Progressives Union in a letter written to the commission urged the panel to see the request of Ashipa people for the removal the market as unacceptable.

The chairman of the commission, Justice Oyejide Falola in his short ruling, said that the commission will look into the matter and make its recommendation to the government without favour. He however, gave an order that the Akinola market, which he said the commission has identified as the source of clash of economic interest between the two neigbours, be stopped from operating on same date with the Asipa market.

Falola blamed the Ife North Local Government for not asserting its authority on the establishment of the market. “The crisis might have been averted if the council authority had done its job effectively by making sure Ipetumodu community did not erect a market on government land unless with due approval of the government,” the judge submitted. He  said the commission may recommend sanction against the council to serve as deterrent.?

Call for memoranda

At a press conference preceding the public hearing, Justice Falola had called on stakeholders, including communities, academics, traditional rulers and chiefs to come with their memoranda to the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding in Osogbo, Osun State capital, venue of the sitting of the commission. According to him, the commission had received memoranda from the two communities adding that the members of the commission had also visited the two communities on a fact finding mission.

The chairman, who noted that the commission will carry out the job without any fear or favour, adding that it also received memoranda from other communities such as Osogbo Ede, Edunabon, Yakoyo and Moro; Songbe and Ede; Origbo communities; Ikirun and Oke-Ila; Gbongan and Osunjela among others where pocket of crisis exist.

He said: “The memoranda submitted so far are not limited to Ashipa/Ipetumodu communities, but from different parts of state of Osun where communal crisis over land are brewing. This is in line with one of our mandates which is to develop a template to be used to tame the monster of communal crisis across the state. But we are assuring that the commission would not apply its full weight of power on the affected communities but we have decided to employ persuasion and dialogue to the raging crisis, so, we are pleading with the two communities to cooperate with the commission.”