LAGOS, Federal Republic of Nigeria. No fewer than eight people have been killed in a bloody clash that erupted between the Yoruba and their Hausa counterparts at Mile 12 market in Ikosi- Ketu, Kosofe Local Government Area of Lagos State, on Thursday, 3 March 2016.
Properties worth millions of naira, including shops, houses, vehicles, goods and other valuables were set on fire in the bloody clash which started around 9 a.m. Commuters, motorist and passersby took to their heels even as market men and women, hurriedly closed shops as the communal clash escalated.
It was gathered that trouble started between the two communities that have had age long relationship on Tuesday, when a commercial motorcycle rider of the Hausa stock, said to be riding against traffic, knocked down a Yoruba youth causing him bodily harm.
This drew the ire of sympathizers, who descended on the motorcycle rider, beating him black and blue. They thereafter formed a surveillance groups to prevent any other rider from further riding against traffic. It was learnt that this development did go down well with the Hausa community, who regrouped yesterday, torching buildings, maiming and killing anyone perceived to be Yoruba.
Our correspondent, who ran into the troubled area on his way to Ikorodu, saw three lifeless and headless bodies, a pointer to the fact that the rampaging groups of either community must have decapitated the victims.
It was also observed that in spite of the heavy presence of security personnel, some youths in their hundreds were seen around the Mile 12 market and Agiliti Bridge, heavily armed with guns, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons. Some of them, who spoke with our correspondent, said they were there to prevent the advancing Hausa youths, whom they alleged had torched two residential buildings and a primary school.
A veteran journalist and Publisher of the Sunrise Magazine, Mr. Gilbert Oboh, who resides some few meters from Ajiliti Bridge expressed shock at the various types of sophisticated weapons he saw with the youths.
A police source said trouble started when some Yoruba boys attempted to force a Hausa commercial bike rider to take a woman he ran over to the hospital, but he refused and started fighting members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, who held him to take responsibility for the injured woman.
The source said: “The fight resulted to a free for all as more Hausa boys joined to rescue their tribal man. They used dangerous weapons on one another and the fight lasted for close to three hours before police came. “The irate Hausa boys burnt tyres and caused a huge fire. More Hausa boys were mobilised from nearby communities and they beat up people and vandalised anything in sight. The area was like a war zone. “They burnt shops and looted goods and property. Residents and passersby ran helter skelter for safety as the fight spread.
We learnt that six men died and three policemen were murdered by the rampaging youth.” Although the parties had stopped fighting at 2 p.m. when our correspondent visited the scene, the men of the Lagos State Fire Service were still struggling to extinguish the fire that had gutted many houses and shops.
A combined team of security operatives, including soldiers, Rapid Response Squad, RRS, and Civil Defense Corps, led by the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni brought normalcy to the area.
Lagos State Police Spokesperson, Dolapo Badmos confirmed the clash in a statement. The statement said: “Today 3/3/2016 at about 09:00hrs there was a distress call that some groups of people are engaging themselves in a free for all in Agiliti area of Mile 12 Lagos. “The police command mobilised men from RRS, mobile unit and Area H command to restore normalcy. “The commissioner of police in charge of Lagos State Command led the operation to restore peace, right now the police is restoring normalcy to the area while the CP is currently engaging the market and community leaders in peace talk. “Investigation is ongoing to unravel the root cause of the fracas.”
Meanwhile, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has ordered the immediate closure Mile 12 market and imposed a curfew on four streets in the area as a result of the mayhem.
Briefing newsmen at the State House, Ikeja, Ambode imposed restriction of movement on four streets, including Oniyanrin, Maidan, Agiliti 1 and 11. “In order to further restore calm in the community, I have ordered that the Mile 12 market be temporarily shut and urge traders and other stakeholders to eschew violence and be law abiding. Furthermore, I have ordered temporary restriction of movement in four streets-Oniyanrin, Maidan, Agiliti 1 and 11,” he said. The governor said police and other security officials were able to manage the situation. “After their intervention, the dispute appeared to have subsided. Today (yesterday), I have just been informed that some hoodlums and criminal elements have exploited that dispute to cause a breakdown of law and order in the community.
This type of clash does occur from time to time in a multi-ethnic city like Lagos. And the government has always responded appropriately. “The public is thereby assured that we will not shy away from our responsibilities to protect life and property in the state. We will deal decisively with those criminal elements involve in the clash. I have been assured by the commissioner of police and other security agencies at the scene that the situation has been brought under control. “I want to assure residents of Lagos State that the state is home to every ethnic group. No one should give this clash any ethnic coloration. Every law abiding citizens should go about their businesses,” he said.
Owoseni said the restriction would be lifted when normalcy had returned completely, even as he said that no death was recorded during the clash. “I was there personally, I did not witness anyone killed. The situation is calm. The people that were agitating have been cleared off the road. Substantial arrest had been made. We will ensure that everyone involve in the clash would be arrested and prosecuted. “There was no fire in the market. We are still auditing but I know that we have made substantial arrest; which is well over 50 persons. As at the time I left the scene, there was no fire in the market. But it was within agility where houses were burnt by miscreants. Those miscreants have been cleared off the road,” he stated.
Credit: National Mirror (Nigeria)