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Ile-Ife: A tale of a ‘clash’ or an attack?

On Tuesday 7th March, 2017, there was an incidence in the ancient city of Ile-Ife, Osun State. It was said to have originated from a…

On Tuesday 7th March, 2017, there was an incidence in the ancient city of Ile-Ife, Osun State. It was said to have originated from a fight between ‘a Hausa man and a Yoruba woman’ which later turned tribal with devastating consequences on lives, limps and property worth a fortune. Newspapers such as the Punch, the Nation, the Vanguard, This Day et al graciously reported about the sanguinary incidence. And in all of their reports, those papers calculatedly used the word ‘clash’ (a fight between two groups) to refer to the savagery in Sabo, Ile-Ife. But was that sad incidence really a ‘clash’? Where, how and when does the media in Nigeria draws the line between a ‘clash’ (e.g the one in Ile-Ife) and an ‘attack’ (e.g the one on ‘Southern Kaduna Christian minorities’?)

The leader of the Hausa community in Sabo-epicenter of the bloodbath-in Ile-Ife was interviewed by the Radio France International (RFI) Hausa services on the morning program of Monday 13th, March 2017. The man stated that over forty seven (47) of his people were massacred in an attack on their community by armed Yoruba militia following the initial Hausa man-Yoruba woman fight. Now, how did a fatal militia attack on a guest community by their host community metamorphose into a ‘clash’? And with the viral video of the charred remains of victims taken on the streets of Sabo with some clad in obviously recognisable Hausa attire, why haven’t we seen the video of the victims of other group in the ‘clash’?! Or could it be that the batteries of the surviving members of the other group in the ‘clash’ run down and therefore they couldn’t video-tape their victims?!

The Nigeria media owe Nigerians a duty to fair and objective in their reportage. Obviously, if it were in the North, headlines would read: “Hausas/Fulani Herdsmen attack Igbos/Yorubas/Agatu” but down south it had always been “Yoruba and Hausa clash” even when concrete evidence proved otherwise! So, ‘clash’ only occur down south and ‘attacks’ happen only up north, abi? This is unfair and an affront on ethics of journalism!

It is commendable though that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) has set up and dispatched a committee to investigate and report on the bloodbath in Ile-Ife. A concern I have however is to do with the head of that committee who has a Hausa sounding name thereby ultimately making some people rightly doubt/reject the findings of his committee even if they were the gospel truths. Or the fear of this makes the man and his committee neutralizes the truth in order to appear politically correct.

Hamisu Hadejia, Lokoja, Kogi State