The dust is gradually settling on the mayhem that engulfed the Shasa area located in Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo State, where scores lost their lives and properties worth millions were destroyed last week.
However, the only way the dust can truly settle is when justice is served. All those involved in the incident must be fished out and dealt with according to the law, to serve as a warning to anyone who may be planning to commit such act in future. Furthermore, it is imperative that government provides compensation for all those who have suffered losses in the incident.
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From reports, the incident was first ignited by a seemingly mild altercation between a Hausa trader and a Yoruba shopkeeper which snowballed into a major confrontation between the two ethnic groups who are predominant in the market located in the area.
It is believed that the incident could not have taken the dimension it took were it not for the statements and events that preceded it. A week before there was the well-publicised activities of a local activist Sunday Igboho who led his men to forcibly evict some Fulani people living in the Ibarapa area of the same Ibadan following the expiry of an ultimatum he had unilaterally issued to them to leave the area. Many believed that Igboho was emboldened by an earlier order given to Fulani people living in the forest reserves of Ondo who he accused of committing various crimes ranging from kidnapping and banditry among others.
Consequently before the incident at Shasa erupted into the full blown ethnic confrontation it became the atmosphere was already charged and tensed up. It came as no surprise at the ferocious dimension it took as already brittle nerves frayed further.
Although the immediate cause of the incident could be attributed to the tendentious statements and activities of state and non-state actors alike, at the root of it all is the glaring failure of the law and order authorities to tackle such issues all over the country.
If the police had identified, arrested and prosecuted the criminal elements allegedly perpetrating the crimes attributed to the Fulani herders, there would not have been any need for quit orders and resort to illegal self-help actions by the likes of Igboho.
Similarly if the Department of State Security (DSS) had deployed its intelligence assets to track down those among the herders that are alleged to be aliens and accused of the crimes that the herders are committing, we would be dealing with a lesser problem.
A clear example of the failure by law enforcement authorities to apply the letters of the law could be seen in the inability of the Oyo State Police Command to arrest Sunday Igboho even after they were ordered to do so by the Inspector-General of Police. In an apparent indifference and contempt to the Police, Igboho had gone ahead to lead his followers to perpetrate a similar action in neighbouring Ogun state.
We must commend the prompt action of Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde for the steps he took to douse the situation. Commendation also should go to the Olubadan of Ibadan and the Oyo State council of traditional rulers for reaching out to stakeholders in their various domains to prevent a spiral of what happened in Shasa.
We must also not fail to mention the role played by government and community leaders in the north who strenuously appealed for calm and took pro-active steps to prevent reprisal actions.
What happened in Shasa reminds us of how fragile and susceptible to dangerous manipulation our fault lines are. It clearly shows that despite our much touted years of staying together and integrating as Nigerians we are far from achieving the unity we desire.
The Shasa incident is one too many. Each time such happens it chips away at the tensile fabric of our nation which may ultimately lead us to breaking point if nothing is done to rein in the issues that lead to such occurrences in the country. This admonition is particularly relevant as we inch towards the next circle of elections in 2023.
In this regard we appeal to politicians and our elites to desist from politicising what should be law and order issues which are under the purview of our law enforcement institutions.
The Oyo State government should immediately institute a judicial panel into the incident with a view to finding the root causes, identify those whose acts of omission or commission led to the loss of lives and property and prosecute them before the law. Compensation and rehabilitation should also be provided for those who lost loved ones and properties in this unfortunate and regrettable incident.