By Yinka Adeniran, Ibadan and Rasaq Ibrahim, Ado-Ekiti
Oyo State government has imposed 24hours curfew on Shasha market and its environ in Ibadan, the state capital. The market has also been ordered shut down indefinitely.
The decision according to Governor Seyi Makinde follows the continued killings and destruction of property in the market. The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Taiwo Adisa confirmed the development on Saturday.
The clashes rocking the market continued Saturday morning with youths unleashing mayhem on one another in the area.
According to residents in the area, residents had fled the entire area and could not pass the night in their homes Friday night for fear of overnight attack from any of the warring groups.
Sources said despite the deployment of police and security agencies in the area, yet to be identified groups razed the Shasha market overnight by burning down some shops, kiosk and wares of some traders. The source said security operatives deployed to the area could not do much as they were only stationed by the main road while clashes and burning of the market was ongoing in the interior.
Another source said people in the area woke up to another round of clashes as both the youths from the Yoruba and Hausa extraction vowed to square it out. The Yoruba youths who were said to be hell-bent on avenging the death of a cobbler who died after being reportedly hit with charm by a Hausa cart pusher.
The source accused the security operatives on the ground of only standing guard to protect the Seriki Shasha while the house of the Baale Shaha was left unattended to. Another unconfirmed source said the angry youths from both extractions in their hundreds are already engaging in free for all.
Amid the fear of an ethic uprising, many residents of Shasha community on Friday relocated from their homes to neighbouring communities to avert being caught in the web of a reprisal attack by conflicting groups.
The peace in the community was stalled in the wake of the crisis that ensued between some hoodlums and the Hausa traders following the death of one cobbler in the market. The clash between the two groups in the market reportedly degenerated towards the evening on Friday.
When The Nation visited the market on Saturday, some residents lamented the crisis, saying it was already taking tolls on them. One of the victims whose shop was looted and burnt, Kazeem Olona, said he suffered huge losses.
He accused the security personnel of preventing Yoruba youth from repelling others who set the shops ablaze. Abiodun Adeyi, an official of the Oyo State Park Management System (PMS) at Shasa Motor Park, also said that the incident has adversely affected their work because passengers were no longer coming to the motor park since the incident started.
Unconfirmed reports stated that three persons were killed in the clash while shops and other properties were said to have been burnt in the area. But the Oyo State Police Command said only one person died, adding that the crisis started as a clash between two miscreants.
The police had also added that it is collaborating with sister agencies who have been massively deployed to the scene to restore peace. Although the police on Friday said normalcy was gradually returning to the area and that critical stakeholders have also been consulted to appeal to the people, the situation Saturday morning proved otherwise.
As at the time of filing this report, unconfirmed sources said the clashes had extended to the interior of the Shasa. A source who visited the market early Saturday morning confirmed ongoing burning of some shops, stalls and items with the entire market entirely deserted.
In announcing the curfew Adisa said the decision follows skirmishes reported in the market. He said the governor gave the order to forestall breakdown of law and order in the area and equally imposed a curfew on Shasha and the market area. The curfew is to run from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.
He warned residents of the affected area to go about their legitimate businesses peacefully; stating that anyone caught perpetrating violence will face the wrath of the law. He said “Governor Seyi Makinde has directed the immediate closure of Shasha market indefinitely following reports of a breach of peace in the area.
The governor has also approved the imposition of a curfew on Shasha. It will run from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. Residents of the affected area are enjoined to go about their legitimate businesses within the hours stipulated by the law. Anyone caught disrupting the peace of the community will be made to face the wrath of the law.”
Meanwhile, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji has urged all warring factions in the crisis to sheathe their swords as jaw-jaw is better than war-war. The first class monarch who bemoaned the high level of insecurity in the land in recent times made this known in Ibadan on Saturday after holding virtual meetings with relevant stakeholders, including Hausa/Fulani leaders in the ancient city. Oba Adetunji lamented that for all of us to truly belong to the nation called Nigeria, it is important for people to eschew violence and bitterness by ensuring that minor conflicts do not degenerate to unnecessary tension.
According to Oba Adetunji “many of our compatriots have been living with each other for a long time. We grow up and attend schools together. People from diverse ethnic groups do inter marry and give birth to lovely children.” Olubadan stated that it came to him as a surprise that crisis could break out in Shasha culminating in large scale destruction such as burning down of properties belonging to neighbours.
“Immediately the report of the crisis got to us in the palace yesterday, the Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde was the first person I called and we have his promise that appropriate action would be taken as sinners would not go unpunished”, the monarch said. Oba Adetunji also urged the Governor to look into the possibility of compensating all those who have been affected by the needless crisis.
Similarly, Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has condemned the violent clash. Fayemi in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Yinka Oyebode, on Saturday, called on the warring traders to sheathe their swords and embrace peace. He sympathised with the government and people of Oyo State, especially families that have lost lives and properties during the violent clash. He also commended Governor Makinde for taking immediate steps in arresting the carnage, including the declaration of curfew.
The Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), warned that the Shasha crisis, if not curtailed, could ignite pockets of crises in different parts of the country, adding that that could be disastrous for the country. “We do not need any act of violence leading to unnecessary death of citizens. Now is the time for the leadership of various ethnic nationalities, trading groups and the security agencies to halt the orgy of violence in Shasha area and work towards ensuring peace in different parts of the country.
“We will enjoy enduring peace and progress through dialogue, mutual respect and understanding for one another. Violence and attendant death and destruction would only spell doom for the country. While commending Governor Makinde for his timely intervention in the crisis, we also express our sympathy to families of the victims as well as those who have lost properties and businesses during the crisis,” Fayemi added.