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Leaders of Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo communities residing in Ile-Ife, Osun state, have called for an end to ethnic clashes in the city.
They spoke at a joint news conference organised by the Ife Progressive Forum/Action Council in Ile-Ife on Monday, March 13.
The Seriki Hausawa of Ife, Alhaji Abubakar Madagali, said the disturbance which momentarily eroded the peace of the ancient city was unnecessary.
Madagali said many of his subjects suffered hige losses, adding that some had died and many more sustained injuries.
The leader of the Hausa community said authorities must step up efforts to resolve the crisis without delay.
“We initially came here to seek for greener pastures, but Ife has now become our home,” he said.
“The latest crisis was not a clash between us and the Yorubas, instead, it was a misunderstanding between some persons which escalated.
“All we are saying now is for us to embrace peace and continue to live together.
“I want to assure the Ile-Ife public that the Hausa community is not planning any retaliation. We view the incident as a misfortune ordained by Allah.”
On his part, Mr Lawrence Awowoyin, the President of Ife Progressive Forum/Action Council, said the crisis was masterminded by hoodlums.
According to him, a committee has been set up to look into the root causes of the crisis with a view to finding a lasting solution.
He suggested that the crisis hinged on a land dispute between a Yoruba family and the Hausa community.
“We all regret the unfortunate clash between certain individuals around Sabo area of Ile-Ife, which led to loss of lives and property,” Awowoyin said.
“The love of Ife people toward all ethnic groups from time immemorial is not in doubt.
“The crisis was an offshoot of a misunderstanding between two individuals at Sabo area of Ile-Ife. This misunderstanding was unfortunately hijacked by hoodlums in the area.
“It is unthinkable for anyone to think that the fracas was ignited by the Ife community. We coexisted with Hausas, Igbos and other ethnic groups for decades without discrimination.”
The Yoruba leader urged security agents to be fair and objective in handling the issue in order to eliminate the looming tension.
“We condemn in its entirety any form of ethnic clash, militancy and insurgency anywhere in Nigeria and in Ife land in particular.
“It is our position that we are all creatures of Almighty God, hence, we are all citizens of the world and we abhor bloodshed…
“We sympathise with the victims from both sides. It is a known fact that both Yoruba and the Arewa community suffered colossal losses and deaths from the crisis.”
The Ezendigbo of Ife land, His Highness Chief Ezekeil Onyejekwe, who was in Ife, urged the warring parties to eschew bitterness and live together in one peace.
He said the incident was unfortunate, adding that it was the first time such an ugly disturbance would occur in the ancient city.
The bloody clash between the Hausa community and the Yorubas in Ile-Ife, Osun State, occured on March 8. Lives were lost and property worth millions of naira were destroyed in the violence.
Although the ugly incident was immediately contained by Osun State security operatives, tensions are said to be high in the city.
Meanwhile, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, has inaugurated a truth and reconciliation committee to ensure peace between the Hausa community and Yorubas in the city.
Oba Ogunwusi inaugurated the committee in his palace on Saturday in Ile-Ife, Osun.
The Ooni described members of the Hausa community in Ile-Ife as his subjects and co-owners of the town with whom he enjoyed tremendous loyalty in the last 14 months of his reign.
He said “thank God for the normalcy; I commend Governor Rauf Aregbesola for being proactive and the security agents for their efforts toward ending the crisis.’’
The monarch condemned the actions of those behind the fracas and expressed optimism that they would soon be apprehended and made to face the law.