On Tuesday March 7, 2017, an altercation between a Yoruba woman and a Hausa man in Sabo Ile Ife, Osun State resulted in the loss of dozens of lives and property worth millions of naira. It was reported that after a brief argument between the two, the matter was put to rest until some youths under the aegis of Great Ife took law into their hand as they went on rampage, which resulted in the killing of about a hundred people, according a Sun Newspaper online report (http://sunnewsonline.com/ile-ife-crisis-hausa-residents-flee-sabo-community/) and destruction of property worth millions of naira. Gory pictures of mutilated bodies strewn in gutters filled most people’s social media timeline and TV screens. This was followed by a mass exodus of Hausa from the community as fear of the unknown loomed (https://www.channelstv.com/2017/03/11/hausas-evacuate-sabo-ile-ife-communal-clash/).
The then acting president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, condemned the chaotic incident and ordered the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to swiftly intervene and ensure the return of peace and order in the ancient town. The IGP responded by deploying a Special Intervention Force to Ile Ife. On his part Governor Rauf Aregbesola declared two days curfew in Ife. The Ooni of Ife also inaugurated Truth and Reconciliation Committee to ensure the return of peace among the inhabitants of his kingdom. Now all these gestures show how serious the different levels of leadership are in curtailing the impending danger the crisis has posed. This is indeed commendable.
My only concern however is the suspicious silence with which the social media has treated the whole issue. And don’t get me wrong on this because I am not referring to the Northern axis of the social media. Those ones don’t have time to comment on national issues because if they are not busy antagonising each other based on Sunni/Sufi divide you will find them bashing a traditional or religious leader based on some of his (mis)quoted remarks. So I am not talking about them. I am also not instigating a reactionary sort of condemnation from the North just because a pint of a people committed an atrocity in the South. I think I should also make it clear that I am not oblivious of the fact Great Ife does not represent the ideological point of view of the Yorubas. I am also very much aware that many Yorubas abhor such barbaric acts and have condemned the Ife massacre in its entirety. Thus my quarrel is not with Yorubas, Southerners or Northern Social Media “Warriors”.
My problem is only with those Social Media advocates for human rights, justice, fairness and what not. People who always jump to condemn any similar act perpetrated in the Northern part of this country by equally a minority. People who said we must come out and condemn Boko Haram and dissociate ourselves from their heinous acts (despite the glaring risk attached to that at the time) before they could trust us. People who condemned the beheading of Bridget in Kurmi Market Kano and called the miscreants (and even other Muslims that were not in support of the crime) all sorts of names. People who condemned El-Rufai, Buratai, IGP, Buhari, and any other Northerner with Fulani ancestry, for the crimes committed by criminal Fulani herdsmen in Southern Kaduna. People who called Yunusa Yellow and all other Malams “unpronunciable” names for eloping with his love Ese. These are the people I am talking about. I am ashamed by their silence over the cold blooded annihilation of a whole generation by some miscreants. Their silence, if anything, underscores a conspiracy theory (which sometimes proves to be true) that says lives of Northerners don’t matter in this country. That only a Southerner or member of a minority group’s life matters. These people are the enemies within. They are always ready to feast on all Northerners for the crimes of the few just to appeal to their excessive bigotry and jingoism.
Therefore unless and until these people come out en mass, as they always do when it is the other way round, and condemn the Ife Massacre and ensure justice is served, we can only watch and wait to give them their actual name which they will forever live to bear. May peace prevail in our country.
Mr Yana teaches English Language and Literature at Sule Lamido University, Kafin Hausa. He can be reached via: [email protected], Facebook: Idris Hamza Yana, Twitter: @Idris_Yana, Instagram: idrisyana