ISSUES | The Sons and Daughters of Ile-Ife: Butchered, Paraded and Now Prisoners of War – By Femi Fani-Kayode
Permit me to begin this contribution with an aside. The barbarians that launched a terror attack in Westminster, London yesterday in which four people were killed and many more injured are the same type of people that attacked and beheaded the sons and daughters of Ile Ife in their own homes and on their own land earlier this month.
They are also the same type of people that butchered the people of Southern Kaduna on Christmas eve and Christmas day, that massacred the people of Agatu last year and that butchered the people of Zaki Biam a few days ago.
They are kindred spirits with those that have dedicated their lives to violence, carnage and cold-blooded murder and terror is their language.
My heart goes out to the people of London and indeed the whole of the United Kingdom. May the souls of those that were killed rest in peace.
Now to the meat of this essay. Let me make myself clear right from the outset. I do not regard the gallant sons and daughters of Ile Ife that were arrested, taken to Abuja and shamelessly paraded before the television cameras and the media by the Nigerian police a few days ago as violent criminals or murderers: I regard them as prisoners of war.
I do not believe that they have done ANYTHING wrong other than perhaps defend themselves and their community from a vicious and barbaric attack from a bunch of merciless and blood thirsty barbarians and I believe that at the end of the day they will be vindicated and set free.
I must commend Afenifere for not only stepping into the matter expeditiously and putting the Nigerian police and the Federal Government on notice but also for raising a powerful team of 21 Yoruba lawyers, which includes Wole Olanipekun SAN and the great Ahmed Raji SAN, to defend them.
It is no longer news that no Hausa/Fulani person has been picked up, detained, paraded before the television cameras or slated for prosecution by the police after the carnage that they unleashed on our people.
Many sons and daughters of Ife were brutalised and slaughtered in the crisis and yet the police have not arrested any Hausa/Fulani man or woman. Can you believe that? That is President Buhari’s Nigeria for you.
One wonders if the police are trying to suggest that the gallant Ifes that fell and lost their lives during the course of the battle actually killed themselves?
Are they trying to suggest that nobody from the Hausa Fulani community committed any crime? Are they trying to suggest that the Hausa Fulani did not provoke the whole incident and draw first blood? This shameless perfidy is wholeheartedly unacceptable.
The whole crisis started when members of the Hausa Fulani community beat up a young Yoruba woman and stabbed her husband. They went further by killing another young man and displaying his badly mutilated body all over town in a wheelbarrow.
Finally they publicly beheaded yet another young man and jubilantly paraded his head in triumph on a long pole through the streets of the Hausa Fulani community in Ife known as Sabo.
The good people of Ile-Ife, rightly, found this affront outrageous and unacceptable and they reacted violently. At the end of the day many people on both sides of the divide and FAR MORE than the police and the Nigerian media dare or care to admit were killed. Furthermore virtually the whole of Sabo was burnt to the ground.
These are the facts yet sadly the handling of the whole matter by the Federal Government and the way that they have distorted the facts, befuddled the issues and established a false and misleading narrative betrays a high level of deceit, deception and partiality.
The police should not be selective in this matter and the Federal Government needs to be careful with the way it treats Yoruba people.
If nothing else the events of 1966, 1983 and 1993, all in the south west, which brought our country to a standstill, truncuated democracy and resulted in horrendous violence and a change of government proves that.
The truth is simple and clear: when it comes to a fight the Yoruba never back down and neither do they bow down to an insult or turn their backs on a challenge.
Afenifere has spoken for us all. Gani Adams of the OPC has done the same and so has the revered Pa Ayo Adebanjo who has been in active politics for the last 67 years and who has seen it all.
I have also spoken in a two-part article titled “The Hausa Fulani, The Yoruba and The Slaughter In Ile-Ife” and so have many others.
And what we are all saying is simple and clear: the Yoruba will not accept a situation whereby we are made second-class citizens in our own country.
If you do not accept that we are all equal before the law and before God, then we will no longer accept the concept or notion of one Nigeria. It is as simple as that.
When these same Hausa Fulani people slaughtered the indigenes and people of Southern Kaduna, Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Kogi, Kwara, Abia, Enugu, Delta, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Lagos and elsewhere none of them were arrested.
The police did not parade them before television cameras, they did not arrest their Emirs, their traditional title holders or their sons and daughters and they did not claim that they had committed heinous crimes.
As a matter of fact in most cases it was their victims and those that they attacked that were rounded up and arrested simply for defending themselves.
This has to stop because that is what the police are doing in Ile Ife. They are rounding up the victims and claiming that they were the aggressors and they are protecting the aggressors.
This is reckless and dangerous. The Federal Government is playing with fire. And as Yinka Odumakin, the spokesman of Afenifere, wisely counselled just two days ago, the Buhari administration would do well “not to pull the Yoruba tiger’s tale”.
Yet sadly, as serious as this whole matter is, some irresponsible miscreants and shameless elements in our midst, both in the government, the media and in the political class, have said that the whole thing was not an ethnic crisis and conflagration but rather a clash between a handful of Yoruba and Hausa Fulani miscreants and touts.
They have run to their friends in certain sections of the media who are more than ready to feed the Nigerian people with their usual “fake news” and false narrative in a scurrilous and futile attempt to becloud the fundamental issues and cover the whole thing up.
Yet if this is not an ethnic clash I wonder what is? You have the Yorubas on one side and the Hausa Fulani on the other. Both sides lost many people in the fighting. Then at the end of it all you only arrest the Yoruba and say it was not an ethnic clash.
You also arrest a Yoruba traditional ruler from Ile-Ife, Oba Ademiluyi, remove his beaded crown, handcuff him, take him to Abuja and parade him on national television as a murderer. One wonders whether he too can be described as a “tout and a miscreant?”
This whole affair and the way the authorities are handling it is utterly sordid and one is constrained to ask the following question: who is fooling who?
This shameless cover up by the Federal Government and the Nigerian police has to stop.
This dangerous recourse to political correctness by the friends and functionaries of the Buhari administration and this perfidious attempt to bury the whole matter and cover up the atrocities of the usual suspects also has to stop.
Let us admit that we have a major problem on our hands and that in order to solve that problem the Government must stop protecting those who are in the habit of attacking and killing people that welcome them with open arms and allow them to settle in their communities.
The application of selective justice and the toleration of genocide, mass murder and ethnic cleansing by the Buhari administration must stop.
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