Thursday, March 30, 2017. 20:40 GMT.

The IG's Partiality in Handling the Ile-Ife Crises to the Advantage of Hausa/Fulanis
         Ibrahim Idriss - IG of Police    

Eager to convey a semblance of efficiency and a tough cop, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, might unwittingly be triggering a wider conflagration with the manner of his intervention in the recent crisis in Ile-Ife. Moving with unusual speed, Idris arrested 20 alleged brains behind the March 8 ethnic clash between the Yoruba and Hausa/Fulani in Ile-Ife. Curiously, all the suspects paraded on March 20 in Abuja - far away from the theatre of the crisis in Osun State - were Yoruba. No Hausa/Fulani combatant was arrested. This is not only selective but biased and divisive. It is a parochial touch to an ethnic skirmish.

Like every other responsible Nigerian, we condemn criminality in all its ramifications; irrespective of identity, crime should be punished. But in a country already convulsed by mistrust and mutual animosity, the one-sided arrests as witnessed in Ile-Ife are capable of deepening divisive sentiments and stoking inter-ethnic violence. In all, 46 people lost their lives on both sides in the mayhem at the Sabo community of the city. Several others were injured and properties razed.

The clashes were sparked when a woman was reportedly slapped by a Hausa man following a minor dispute. The matter degenerated when the victim's husband mobilised his transport workers union members on a revenge mission. Eventually, members of the host community and the Hausa/Fulani settlers were embroiled in unnecessary violence.

In spite of protests that it is against the law of natural justice to arrest only one party in a conflict, Idris has stuck to his guns, insisting that proper investigations were carried out before the parade of the suspects. It is normal to bring criminals to book, but by refusing to subject the other party to the same legal process, the IG gives the impression that the Yoruba fought among themselves, destroyed their own property and killed both their own people and the Hausa/Fulani people. This is incredulity at the highest level. To foster justice, all those who took the law into their own hands should be arrested and prosecuted.

To those familiar with the history of violent clashes in the country, this discriminatory trend may not really be surprising. The culture of cherry-picking suspects for arrest after riots has for long been entrenched in the country. When ethnic clashes occurred intermittently in Idi-Araba, Agege and Ketu in Lagos some years ago, that was what the police did. Having succeeded then, they are now extending it to Ile-Ife. This is dangerous. No ethnic group is special in the country.

It should be noted that, in spite of their atrocities against communities in Plateau, Benue, Enugu, Delta, Oyo, Taraba and Nasarawa states, Fulani herdsmen are not being arrested and prosecuted. In 2012, they murdered hundreds in Plateau State, killed a serving senator, Gyang Datong, and a state House of Assembly member, Gyang Fulani, at a funeral ceremony for victims of their earlier massacre in Berom. There was no diligent prosecution.

In April 2016, the herdsmen killed scores in Ukpabi Nimbo in Enugu State. A few months earlier, they had murdered hundreds in Agatu, Benue State. All that the then Police Commissioner in Benue State, Paul Yakadi, said when he visited Agatu was that villages had been burnt down and taken over by "heavily armed men" and 5,000 cattle. Nobody was arrested and the marauders are still reportedly occupying those communities and spreading their murderous campaign to other parts of the state.

New statistics by the Tiv Professional Group allege that between 2013 and 2016, Fulani herdsmen massacred 1,878 people in 12 Local Government Areas of Benue State. Two weeks ago, they overran Ohimini LGA, killing 15. Only last Saturday, herdsmen invaded the Jato-Aka Prison Farm Centre in Benue and "destroyed property, shot and killed one Tersoo Agidi, an inmate," a prison official said on Monday. The only response has been that the terrorists are foreign herdsmen. Is there any law that bars the police from arresting foreigners who have committed criminal acts?

On the pretext that their cattle were stolen before the 2011 elections, Fulani herdsmen have been slaughtering people in Southern Kaduna in Kaduna State. A tally of the renewed killings given by the Catholic Church in December 2016 said 808 people across 53 communities lost their lives. In 2015, a global think-tank, the Institute for Economics and Peace, rated Fulani herdsmen as the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world in its Global Terrorism Index. The report said they murdered 80 people in 2013, 1,240 in 2014, and 847 people in 2015. How many of them have been arrested and prosecuted? If as the IG says, crime knows no tribe or nationality, then why are we not seeing mass arrests and prosecution of these killers?

As the outrage mounts, the IG has been lacklustre in apprehending the culprits. His rhetoric to curb the Fulani-inspired mayhem across the country sounds vacuous. It may be why he is being buffeted with accusations of carrying out ethnic vendetta or agenda in the Ile-Ife arrests. But a police chief is for the entire country, and should appear and be seen to be fair at all times. Idris has not exhibited this in the Ile-Ife matter.

His latest action has only reawakened latent ethnic divisions in the polity. The arrest of only one party to a crisis increases the sense of injustice and a divided country. It adds to the deep mutual distrust in the country. While all wrongdoers deserve punishment, the real solution to the Nigerian quagmire is to implement true federalism, which accommodates diverse national interests. Without it, sectional officers finding themselves in positions of authority will only succeed in pushing Nigeria into needless conflict.



Vestibulum bibendum felis sit amet dolor auctor molestie. In dignissim eget nibh id dapibus. Fusce et suscipit orci. Aliquam sit amet urna lorem. Duis eu imperdiet nunc, non imperdiet libero.

Post A Comment:


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.