Ile-Ife: Aregbesola Seeks Justice For All

Northern Socio-Political group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) yesterday urged Yoruba elders to restrain from giving ethnic coloration to the crisis that erupted in Ile-Ife, Osun State.

 

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The Northern socio-cultural group, in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Muhammadu Ibrahim, said:

 

“Unfortunately, subsequent events after the preliminary investigation report of the police into the Ile-Ife crisis, there have been accusations by some Yoruba leaders that the police report was biased, as the suspects paraded by the police were alleged to be mainly Yoruba.

 

“ACF’s position in this regard is to appeal to the respected elders of Yoruba not to give unnecessary ethnic coloration to the unfortunate Ile-Ife clash as criminality knows no ethnicity or religion.

 

“Any slightest disagreement between individuals or groups of persons that are regarded as ethnic or religious tend to deepen hatred and division among Nigerians. Elders are known for their wisdom in settling disputes and not to fan embers of divisions.”

Osun governor has raised a five-man judicial commission of inquiry into the disturbance of public peace that claimed some lives in the ancient city of Ile-Ile town on March 20. The committee has four weeks to turn in its report.

The move came even as the Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) and the Arewa Consultative Forum (OPC) disagreed on the reactions trailing the mayhem, especially the arrest of 20 suspects.

In a statement, OPC President Fredrick Fasehun accused the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris of bias, tagging him an ethnic jingoist for arresting the hosts in a clash involving resident-settlers. He called for the police chief’s sack “over charges of tribalism and prejudice”.

But in another statement through its Publicity Secretary Muhammed Ibrahim, the ACF warned Yoruba leaders to be cautious in their reactions, saying that crime and violence have no ethnic colouration.

Reiterating his administration commitment to the promotion of communal peace in the Living Spring State, Aregbesola called for cooperation with security agencies in the process of unravelling the masterminds of the March 8 mayhem.

In his speech entitled “Justice for all, never again in the Land of the Virtuous (Ipinle Omoluabi), shortly after inaugurating the five-member panel at the weekend, the governor tasked the committee to unravel the remote and immediate cause of the crisis.

He named Justice M.A Adeigbe as the panel’s chair. Other members are:  Mrs. Bose Dawodu DCP (rtd), Barrister Ismail Ajibade, the State Commissioner of Police, the State Director of DSS and Mr. Bisi Babalola who will act as the secretary.

He urged the panel to identify the perpetrators and their extent of involvement, determine the extent of injury suffered by any individuals or group.

The committee was also mandated to recommend appropriate civil or criminal action to be taken against the perpetrators, make appropriate suggestions to the State Government towards the prevention of future occurrence and also recommend appropriate monetary sum as compensation(s) for damages or injuries that may have been suffered by any individual or group of individuals in respect of matters received by it.

He said: “You have four weeks to carry out this assignment. 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. Please investigate this and unearth the roles they played and let the law be applied without fear or favour.

“I charge this commission to be courageous and fearless. Undertake this assignment with all seriousness and the fear of God. You should pursue the truth and not fear where it will lead to.

“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, as I wish you success on this crucial assignment.”

The governor warned against pre-empting the outcome of on going investigation, saying it will be prejudicial to the efforts of the law enforcement agencies, he however expressed confidence that the crisis is not an inter-ethnic, inter religious or inter regional conflict.

In his response, Justice Adeigbe promised that his panel will discharge its job without fear or favour.

He said the commission would go all out to ensure that the real perpetrators of the dastardly act are brought to book and ensure that all warring factions are appeased.

The panel chair said: “Mr. Governor, I assure you that we will not let you and the people down. We will carry out this task you have given us to the best of our ability.” Myself, and my members will ensure that the perpetrators of the sad event which occurred at Ife are brought to book.”

Fasehun, who accused Idris of acting an ethnic script said: “The IG just confirmed that only Yoruba were arrested in a conflict between Yoruba and Hausa-Fulani people; that is prejudicial and that is unacceptable.

“Idris is a man with an agenda. He has shown himself a bigot. And he is unfit to be the IG of Police in a cosmopolitan and pluralistic country like Nigeria. Before he smears President Muhammadu Buhari, the President should offload him.”

According to the OPC leader, for the IG to have made such a statement was “an admission of tribalism, unbefitting of the exalted position of the Inspector-General of the Nigerian police. It is a confirmation that the police under Mr. Ibrahim Idris took the prejudicial step to arrest only Yoruba people although the crisis pitched two tribes against each other.”

Fasehun accused the police chief taking sides and that contrary to his training and oath of office, foreclosed an open case between two conflicting groups.

“The IG has admitted that only Yoruba suspects were arrested and that it was deliberate. It is a clear case of prejudice,” he emphasised.

He called for the immediate release of the Ife-20, saying, their arrest neither followed due process nor the facts on the ground.

Fasehun warned that such a prejudicial stance by security agents like the IG could embolden herdsmen to inflict violence and death on communities across the country.

Fasehun said: “Is there any wonder why under Idris’s watch, the police has been unable to apprehend, prosecute and check the mayhem inflicted by Fulani herdsmen at Agatu in Benue State, where they have sacked communities and continue to graze their cattle with impunity, in Delta State, in Ekiti State, Ogun State, Nasarawa State, Benue State, in Plateau State and in Southern Kaduna?

“Despite the havoc being unleashed and continued against citizens in Southern Kaduna, the police under Idris has been unable to apprehend and prosecute a single culprit.

Pointed out that the police have swing into action only in cases where victims put up resistance against, he alleged   that the police often arrest people defending their homes and farms against invaders.

“Everywhere communities rise up to resist agents of death, Idris would quickly rise up to arrest citizens for daring to protect themselves,” Fasehun reiterated.