Only Our People Lost Their Lives – Fleeing Hausas Lament on Ile Ife’s Massacre
Despite the Inspector General of Police (IGP)’s deployment of a police team to reinforce other security agencies, including the Osun State command of the force, the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), with a view to forestalling further crisis, the Hausa residents that survived the recent battle between them and the Yoruba in the ancient town of Ile-Ife, yesterday continued to flee from their Sabo community where the fight broke to their various homes in the North.
As at yesterday, hundreds of them were leaving in batches, through commercial buses and cars operated by Yoruba transporters. While some of them took Ilesa route, others followed Akure route where they could get direct vehicles to the North.
The communal clash started on Tuesday evening and degenerated on Wednesday morning after an Hausa man slapped a Yoruba woman said to be the wife of a popular Yoruba man and leader of the Abuja branch of the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), for refusing him to keep his bag in her shop, leaving heavy casualties in its wake.
It was gathered that the slap triggered a further attack on the Hausa man by the Yoruba youths who beat him to stupor and locked him in the shop; an action that fuelled a reprisal attack by a group of Hausa men. This later degenerated to a free for all fight between both parties.
As at Thursday morning, the figure of the deaths recorded stood at 10, but sources said not less than hundred people lost their lives in the battle.
Also, property worth millions of naira, including vehicles and shops were destroyed. Several houses were also set ablaze, while others were badly vandalised, leaving the occupants homeless.
A couple of Hausa people who spoke to Saturday Sun yesterday claimed that it was only their people that lost their lives, following attacks by hoodlums whom they said, used dangerous weapons, including guns, cutlasses and cudgels among others.
When Saturday Sun visited the Sabo community yesterday, the Hausa people were seen fleeing the area in their hundreds with their children, bag and baggage and other personal effects.
Investigations indicated that they started fleeing the community in droves since Wednesday morning when the fight escalated and continued leaving till yesterday evening.
One of the survivors, Danjuma Danladi, told Saturday Sun that those who could not leave yesterday would leave on Saturday (today).
While explaining reasons for vacating the war-ravaged community, one of the Hausa leaders, the Afobaje of the Hausa communities in Ile-Ife, Alhaji Malami Nasidi, told Saturday Sun that his people needed to leave the community immediately to escape any further attack.
According to him, they don’t have anywhere to sleep, adding that he and his family and other victims had been sleeping outside and could not guarantee their security.
“We need to go for now because our people are calling us to come back home and we don’t have any option than to leave now until peace is completely restored,” he said.
He, however, assured that they would return after total restoration of peace and security. According to him, most of the Hausa, including himself, were born and bred in Ile-Ife and did not have any other home, noting that people in this category would remain in the town in anticipation of return of normalcy to the affected community.
Another survivor, Mustapha Hassan, from Zaria said the victims did not have any option than to go back to the North since their houses had been destroyed, leaving them homeless.
“We don’t have anywhere to stay. We don’t have anywhere to sleep. They have destroyed everything that we have. Most of us had shops and stores where we used to sell carpets, provisions, phones and other things. Other people used to sell food stuff like beans, rice, yams, pepper, onions. But everything was destroyed. We don’t have anything to survive in Ife any more. That is why we have to go back to our homes in the north,” he said.
“Since three days ago when the fight started and they killed a lot of our people, the cloth I am wearing now is the only thing I have now. I lost everything. I don’t have any option than to go back to the north where I came from,” another survivor, Mustapha Nadabo lamented.
Another Hausa leader, Alhaji Buhari Halum, also lamented the attack, saying that the Hausa people in Ife had lived in peace and unity with the Yoruba over the years and wondered why the latter would take arms against them without recourse to the age-long relationship.
He, however, disclosed that Governor Rauf Aregbesola had made a donation of 5 million naira and 14 bags of rice to the victims. He added that some kind-hearted indigenes have been assisting them in various ways.
Saturday Sun also gathered that corpses of people that lost their lives were evacuated from hospitals yesterday for burial.
While several people that had been displaced were busy fleeing the community, several others, however, trooped to the Sabo Central Mosque to observe the Friday prayers with “Ife Has Finished Us” inscription conspicuously pasted in front of the mosque.
As at yesterday, several shops and offices in the community were still under lock and key, while schools remained shut as the curfew imposed by the state government remained in force.
However, economic activities have picked up in the other parts of the town, with people going about their normal businesses.
Meanwhile security personnel, including heavily armed policemen, soldiers and officials of the Civil Defence mounted surveillance to ensure peace and security of lives and property.