The victims of inter-ethnic violence in Shasha market have started counting their losses after their properties were destroyed in a violent attack that targeted northern traders in Ibadan, a city in Southwest Nigeria.
An eyewitness narrated to HumAngle that the violence erupted after a Hausa porter’s tomato basket fell in front of a shop owned by a Yoruba woman.
According to him, the woman got angry after the porter refused to clear the rotten tomatoes properly and it led to a heated argument between them.
The argument drew the attention of nearby youths. One of them reportedly slapped the porter, who hit back immediately. The youth collapsed on the spot and was later certified dead at a hospital.
His death caused outrage in the area and led to the killing of at least 11 people among the resident Hausa traders, according to the chairman of the market traders union, Usman Yako.
However, while there is no official record of deaths recorded during the clash, HumAngle gathered that some Yoruba residents also lost their lives in the violent clash that lasted for two days.
Victims who spoke to HumAngle said several lives and properties worth millions of naira were lost to the attack between Thursday and Saturday.
Yako accused the Amotekun security outfit of firing guns at the northerners and watching other hoodlums burn shops belonging to them.
“Eleven bodies have been buried at the Muslim cemetery, while the rest were taken elsewhere in order to douse tension,” he told Daily Nigerian.
Some Yoruba residents of the community, who did not dispute Yako’s submission, however, alleged that military officials present when the clash broke out also guarded the palace of the Sarkin Sasa and members of the Hausa community in his palace.
One of the traders whose shops were burnt to ashes said he was not thinking of returning to the market as he lost millions of naira.
“Even the safe we keep our money in was destroyed,” he told HumAngle.
Nasir is currently taking refuge alongside hundreds of others at the residence of a community leader, Sarkin Shasha, Dr Haruna Maiyasin.
Maiyasin told HumAngle that his house was already full of people who ran away from different locations due to the attack.
“Urgent attention is needed here before things go out of hands. People are still trooping to my house,” he said.
Nasir added that the attackers did not stop at the market but destroyed the house where his mother lived for many years.
Fatima Zahra, a sister to one of the victims, said her newlywed brother had to run with his wife after being attacked.
According to her, nothing was left in their new home as all the properties in the house were burnt down.
On Saturday, the Oyo state government imposed a curfew that would run from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. and ordered the market’s immediate closure.
During a visit to the community on Sunday, the state governor Seyi Makinde described what happened as a needless carnage.
“We will continue to appeal to everyone. The constitution of Nigeria allows anyone to stay wherever they like. He must just obey their local laws,” he said.
“If criminals want to take advantage of the situation, we will not allow it. We will ensure that criminals masquerading as hoodlums will be fished out and dealt with.”
He added that the government would give palliatives to those who lost their livelihood means and meet with the leaders from various sides.
“I believe we will find a solution to this unfortunate situation. So, I appeal to the rest of the state to stay calm. There must not be any reprisal attack. And, for our law enforcement agents, they have to step up their game. We will continue to monitor the situation and play our part to ensure that normalcy returns as quickly as possible.”
Quit Notices Triggering Violence — Expert
There has been ethnic tension in some parts of southwestern Nigeria following quit notices given to Fulani herders operating in the region over allegations of kidnapping and destruction of farmlands.
A conflict and insecurity expert, Aminu Yunusa, said the attack would heighten existing tensions between the southern and northern parts of the country.
Even though as of the time of writing this report, there was no evidence linking the clash in Ibadan to the attacks faced by some members of the Fulani community, he stated that the clash might have triggered by the eviction notice.
“Many people could not differentiate between Hausa traders and Fulani herders,” he said. “The attackers think an eviction notice to a herder is the same as to the one on Hausa trader because they are all northerners.”
Northerners who spoke to HumAngle accused state governments in the southwest of instigating the attacks in one way or the other.
Last month, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, gave an order directing Fulani herdsmen to quit forest reserves within seven days. The order came after a video circulated in December where an unidentified man warned Fulani herders to leave the region.
Another message followed from Sunday Igboho, a self-proclaimed Yoruba activist, who gave a similar warning to herders in Oyo State, following killings and kidnappings reportedly committed by herdsmen.
Igboho’s campaign had led to the destruction of properties belonging to Fulani settlements in the state and burning of properties worth millions of naira at the palace of Sarkin Fulani in Igangan.
The attack was condemned by various groups including the Coalition of Oduduwa Elders.
Additional reporting by Adebayo Abdul Rahman
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