The Federal Government has ruled out ethnicity as possible cause of the recent bloody clash between Yoruba and Hausa communities in Ile-Ife, Osun State.
The Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, gave the verdict after visiting the scene of the clash and interacting with leaders of the two communities in the state and South West.
Dambazau disclosed his findings to State House correspondents in an interview on Friday shortly after joining President Muhammadu Buhari and some other top government officials for Jumat prayers inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said he decided to move straight to Ile-Ife when he returned from South Africa where he had gone with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, to discuss with the government of the country on the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians.
The minister said, “We went straight to communities where this crisis occurred and we saw the extent of damage and we met the leaderships of the communities and discussed with them.
“It is very clear that this issue is not about crisis between Hausa community and Yoruba community in Ile-Ife.
“The Hausa community has been living in Ike-Ife for close to 200 years. I understand the first settlers arrived there in 1820. These are about fourth or fifth generation of the community and they have never experienced this kind of thing until now.
“So, it is not about ethnic issue. It is about a couple or bunch of people who constitute themselves a nuisance to carry out this dastardly act and quite a number of them escaped from the community.
“So we made them to understand that they should not look at it from the point of view of ethnicity and they all agreed.”
At the meeting, Dambazau said they also emphasised the need for the people to remain in peace.
He said they were warned against considering reprisal attacks while they were assured that the culprits would be brought to book.
“The issue of revenge or reprisal should not come to anybody’s mind because the government is handling the situation.
“Those found to have been involved in deliberately attacking people, taking lives and destroying properties will be dealt with in accordance with the law.
“So, we emphasised that there is the need for us to be in peace because without peace, it is impossible to develop and that was understood by everybody.”
Dambazau added that they also visited the palace of the Ooni of Ife, where they were received by the Ooni in Council with all the chiefs present.
He said they assured the chiefs that the Federal Government will continue to protect the lives and property of its citizens in accordance with the constitution.
He also disclosed that he moved to Ibadan, Oyo State where he met with the leaders of the Hausa community in the South West.
The minister said the leaders were prevailed upon to calm nerves and discuss with their people on the need to maintain peaceful co-existence in the South West.