Thursday, 23 March 2017

Ile-Ife: More knocks for police over arrests

The police got more knocks yesterday for their “lopsided” arrests over the March 8 mayhem that rocked Ile-Ife, Osun State. The police, on Monday, paraded 20 suspects who allegedly participated in the mayhem, which involved Yoruba indigenes and Hausa settlers. The suspects are mainly Yoruba, fueling the notion that the police might have taken sides in the fracas. An Ife indigene and Yoruba leader, Mr. Goke Omisore, said the identities of the suspects showed that there was a deliberate attempt to embarrass the Yoruba. He wondered why the police left out suspects from the other party in the bloody clash, noting that the investigation would not be thorough, if security agencies take sides in such sensitive matter. Omisore, who described the mayhem as a sacrilege, said: “The fact that the bloody violence happened in Ile-Ife, the Yoruba cradle, is a condemnable sacrilege that must not be swept under the carpet. But the action of the police has shown that the authorities are ready to take sides in the crisis. “Why would the police make one-sided arrest and leave the other party in the crisis out? This is a veiled attempt to embarrass the Yoruba and tag us as violent people. There can never be justice if the police are tinkering with facts. It takes two to tango. Yoruba will not accept the outcome of the investigation, if the other party is left out.” The Oodu’a People’s Congress (OPC) called for caution in the handling of the investigation, while condemning the police action. The group called for unconditional release of the Ife indigenes arrested, saying the police openly showed their bias for singling out only Yoruba for arrest. OPC Publicity Secretary Mr. Yinka Oguntimehin, in a statement, said: “OPC is expressing concern that the measure being adopted to quell the crisis would only midwife a cold comfort, should the indigenes be made to bear the scars of the tussle alone. “Ife, being the cradle of the Yoruba, is symbolic and being held in high esteem by sons and daughters from the race. Issues connected with the ancient town should be treated with care and accuracy. “Ïfe is Yoruba root and the race is known for its uncommon hospitality. We care for settlers in our domain to a fault and this is why we believe there are more to the recent crisis that engulfed Ife than meet the eyes. We will not want this hospitality to be mistaken for cowardice. The Yoruba race is not and will never be conquered. “We call for unconditional release of all the arrested Ife indigenes, while a better amicable way should be explored to calm all frayed nerves and settle the crisis permanently.” Also, a pressure group, G9, condemned the “one-sided” arrest, describing the police investigation as worrisome. Its convener, Chief Tola Adeniyi, said the police had portrayed themselves as partial, partisan and unprofessional. “It is worrisome the attitude of the police in this investigation is unbecoming of impartial umpire. A referee has suddenly become a player on the side of one team. Several arrests were made and when the suspects were paraded, it turned out that not a single Hausa man or woman was among the flock. A revered Ife traditional ruler was also paraded as a suspect. This is ridiculous,” Adeniyi said. The group advised the police to treat all ethnic groups equally before the law, saying the attempt to treat any ethnic group differently would not be helpful to the unity of the country.

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