By Bisi Oladele and Yinka Adeniran, Ibadan
Those who are fanning ember of ethnicity using weekend’s mayhem at Shasha Market in Ibadan are mischievous, Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu said on Tuesday.
According to him, after a fact-finding visit to the ancient city by a delegation of North’s governors, they found out that a long-running leadership tussle in the market was the remote cause of the conflict.
“To those outside Ibadan, particularly, the northern state, we want to say that a regrettable spontaneous incident happened but it is not a tribal conflict, it is a regrettable conflict and the different communities in Oyo are working and holding each others hands to sort things out, Bagudu explained.
Many people died and properties worth millions of naira were burnt and the market was razed, during the conflict.
Other North’s governors on the trip with Bagudu were Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) and Abubakar Sani-Bello (Niger).
They met with stakeholders in the Shasha market and visited other market in Ibadan to interact with Nigerians of other tribes living in the city.
They left Ibadan for Ogun State where they met with representatives of communities; farmers and herders representatives and others involved in the conflict that have claimed lives in recent months. They were received by Governor Dapo Abiodun and Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in Abeokuta.
Speaking in Ibadan on behalf of others, Bagudu said: “We are here as a delegation of the Nigeria Governors Forum, our host, Governor Seyi Makinde, briefed us about what happened and today took us to Shasha market and on the way we had a stopover at Bodija market and we are pleased that we saw Nigerians of all tribes in the market conducting their activities which is evidence of return of normalcy.
“In fact, we saw onions sellers from different states including Kebbi, Zamfara, Sokoto among others and well as Nigerians from other states.
“We went to Shasha market and we saw the destruction and more than the destruction was the regrettable loss of lives that were caused by a regrettably condemnable spontaneous response to emotions. Both the Hausa and Yoruba community were unanimous that two issues led to this thing (conflict).
“First, there have been contentions over the leadership of the Shasha market – even though the Seriki Shasha and Baale of Shasha are in agreement with the leadership – other interest groups were not, so there were these undercurrents playing out.
“Then the trigger, there was somebody either pushing or carrying a wheelbarrow with tomatoes and then it fell in front of a shop and normally, one would have thought that this is ordinarily a common happening in a market, but once emotions are pent up and social media is instigating, unfortunately, we had the situation we had, which included the loss of lives. We regret and sympathise with all those who lost their lives.
“We saw the damage and we appreciate what the governor has done so far and community leaders, youth groups and security agencies.
“And Nigerian Governors have been calling the governor over the last few days and we are glad that things are calming down and returning to normalcy and we are equally glad that Seriki Shasha and Baale Shasha are firm and agreed that everyone is free to stay and conduct their lawful activities and the governor has assured that he will continue to engage to ensure that all communities are living without fear.”
He urged those who are nursing certain fears of continuous attack on the residents to report such at the Government House so that the Governor can send a team to verify and douse the tension.
“As we speak, we are certain that some people are still afraid and unsure of what will happen but the onus is on us to ensure that we communicate properly so that those who are living in fear either in Ibadan or outside Ibadan in other states, because others in fear of reprisal must know that the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), President Mubammadu Buhari, security agencies are working hard to ensure that we treat things for what they are.
“Incidences are bound to happen, sometimes, they are exploited by miscreants in the society to loot, to steal and cause mayhem and part of what has happened in Ibadan has to do with that, just like we saw during the EndSars riot. But, we are glad that reason is prevailing and people are calming down and encouraging others.
“But for the generality of Nigerians, it is important that they know that the streets of Ibadan are calm, there are no people chasing each other and people are supporting each other to resume normalcy.
“We are glad that the governor is rendering assistance and we the NGF are going to support him and in fact we have already given a token to support those who are displeased and we will meet at a wider forum tomorrow (today) and I am sure that more support will be mobilized.”
Market leaders speak In separate remarks while hosting the governors at their different homes, Seriki Shasha Haruna Maiyasin Katsina and Baale Shasha, Amusa Akinade Ajani, said the people have eschewed ethnic and tribal sentiments and have lived peacefully for years.
The duo identified sinister interests who are bent on taking over the leadership of the market and refusing the installation of the newly appointed market leaders as the brains behind the crisis.
They appealed to the government to fish them out and give the appropriate sanctions to serve as a deterrent to others.
Governor Makinde appealed to the people to trust his judgement to watch out for them and to ensure that people co-exist peacefully.
He said “There is nothing we can do in pandemonium and a place devoid of peace.
“I beg you, I don’t want any life to be wasted again and I will not waste the life of anyone of you.”
Makinde added: “We’ve been together for so long. So I feel the pain of everyone here. Yes, properties were lost. We can replace properties. When fire broke out, I sent fire truck but it was vandalized. It’s annoying that we had to use money for other things to replace that. But when human lives are lost, we can’t replace them; it is irreversible. So, my message is that of peace.
“We all have to come together. And I thank my brother governors for showing solidarity towards uniting everybody. As a government, we will continue to explore avenues for peaceful cooexiatence of all of us.
“This is the time to show leadership in Nigeria. For those trying to politicize security, it is not right. Nigeria transcends PDP, APC. Hence we are speaking in one accord to find solution to restoring peace to Oyo State.
“For those spreading fake news, let them desist. The writer of a particular fake news item lives in the UK and stokes fire of violence here. The news said 6,000 volunteers were waiting to be rescued to Kano.
“I ask promoters of fake and devising news to please desist. Let’s have the chance to give our people the opportunity to earn a decent living.”
Some of the government functionaries in the entourage of Governor Makinde include, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu; Senator Hosea Agboola; Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG) Zone XI, David Oyebamiji Folawiyo; Oyo State Commissioner of Police, CP Ngozi Onadeko; Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr Bayo Lawal; Special Adviser (Security), CP Fatai Owoseni (rtd); Executive Assistance (Security), CP Sunday Odukoya (rtd), Special Assistant (Arewa Community), Alhaji Ahmad Murtala; among others.