1 February 2013

Nigeria: Police Arrest Eight Over Offa, Erin-Ile Crisis

Kwara State Police Command Thursday said it had arrested eight persons for allegedly being in possession of firearms and ammunition during the ongoing communal clash between Offa and Erin-Ile communities.

The arrest, however, came on the heels of a charge by the state Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, thursday, that the two royal fathers from the two communities should call their subjects to order or face dire consequences from the state government.

Also, Senator Bukola Saraki representing Kwara Central Senatorial district at the National Assembly, Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Abdulrasaq Atunwa and a former governorship candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the state in the last election, Mr. Mohammed Dele Belgore, all charged the two communities to give peace a chance and live harmoniously among themselves.

Similarly, a pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Coalition of Oodua Self Determination Group (COSEG) also said it had waded into the communal clash, saying an intervention and reconciliation committee meeting was set up to meet with the traditional rulers of the two communities.

However, a statement signed by the command's Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Fabode Olufemi, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), said the command had commenced full investigations into their alleged involvement so as to unravel more information about their activities.

The statement also stated that the command had been fortified with more security personnel in order to put a stop to the communal clash.

The statement said: "As soon as the investigation is completed on the eight arrested persons, they will be charged to court. Security agencies deployed to the area have been re-inforced to ensure no further break down of law and order in the two affected communities."

The statement, which warned troublemakers in the area to desist from such act and embrace peace, also stressed that anyone arrested would face the full wrath of the law.

Equally speaking on the crisis, Ahmed in a statement issued in Ilorin yesterday and signed by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Alhaji Abdulwahab Oba, directed the two traditional rulers to henceforth, maintain peaceful coexistence in their communities or be prepared to shoulder the dire consequences of hostilities.

"The killing of innocent citizens and destruction of properties between the two hitherto friendly neighbours is cruel and barbaric. It is by share providence that Offa and Erin-Ile found each other as neighbours and both communities must, therefore, show gratitude to God by living together in harmony.

"Efforts by the state government to bring development to the state may continue to be a mirage in the atmosphere of violence and destruction," he said.

Saraki and Atunwa in separate statements issued in Ilorin yesterday, observed that: "No community will attract government and private patronage if there is no peace, people of both communities need to learn how to tolerate each other so as to foster peace and development."

On his part, Belgore in a statement by his Media Assistant, Mr. Rafiu Ajakaye, called on the two communities to sheath their swords and live together in peace and harmony.

He implored the, "the good people of Offa and Erin-Ile never to give in to anybody or interest fanning the embers of discord among them for whatever ulterior motives."

COSEG in a statement jointly signed by the Chairman, Dayo Ogunlana; and General Secretary, Razaq Olokoba, said: "an intervention and reconciliation committee set up and led by Moses Olafare and Sola Olatunde has held a meeting with the Olofa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi, (Ilufemiloye 11), who was represented by Eesa of Offa (his deputy), Chief Yinusa Bukoye and Elerin-Ile of Erin-Ile, Oba Abdul-Ganiyu Ajibola with a view to finding a lasting solution to the crisis."

The statement stated that the monarchs had a fruitful discussion with the committee, adding that "after the meeting, wider consultations have commenced by the committee with notable stakesholders in Yorubaland with a view to nipping the incessant crisis in the bud once and for all."

While appealing to the warring communities to sheath their sword and give peace a chance, COSEG reminded that "both of you are brothers and sisters from the same ancestral origin," warning that "crisis of this nature normally hinders progress, growth and development and can also jeopardise the agitation for restructuring of polity that can bring together all the brethren that are scattered around the country due to faulty structure of the country."

Similarly, the Coordinator of Kwara South Youth Development Initiative, Hon. Ben Duntoye, also sued for peace, saying the youths in the two communities should embrace peace and shun violence.

The group, which lauded the state government for its quick intervention, stated that it had inaugurated a seven-man committee that would mediate over the crisis.

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