Ife crisis: Afenifere prepares legal team to challenge police prosecution of 21 suspects

Some of the suspects paraded by the Nigerian Police

The pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has vowed to resist what it termed the undue deployment of federal might, in settling ethnic scores occasioned by the resent clashes between the Hausa community and Yoruba indigenes in Ile Ife.

A press statement by the group’s publicity secretary, Yinka Odumakin, on Wednesday noted that the position of Afenifere followed “the illegal, unconstitutional and sectional parade of 21 Ife indigenes over the recent clashes between the host community and Arewa settlers.”

“As a first step in this regard, we have assembled a powerful team of lawyers to enforce the fundamental human rights of the 21 abducted Yoruba persons,” the Afenifere said.

The group pointed out that the investigation and trial of suspects under the present circumstances should by known law, take place at the scene of the crime.

Afenifere expressed appreciation to the lawyers of Yoruba extraction who had taken up the challenge pro bono.

“The legal team will challenge this subversion of due process while political pressure continues on why two communities would be involved in a fight and only members of one community put on trial by a police whose leadership is of the same ethnic group with the other party in conflict,” Mr. Odumakin said.

“We restate the fact that the Arewa group started the killings in Ile-Ife by killing a Yoruba young man. This is clearly missing in the skewed report by the police.

“We appeal to our people to be calm while we pursue the legal angle to this challenge to our pride as a people as the first step.”

Another pan-Yoruba group, the Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG, had earlier condemned the report of the police on the Ife crisis, accusing the police of a lopsided investigation.

The ARG said the police had recreated the Ife clash as an ethic one, while arresting for prosecution only persons from the Yoruba extraction.

It called on the Osun State Government to constitute a commission of enquiry to investigate the matter and unravel the remote causes of the crisis.

The police has, however, denied the allegations, saying it was thorough in its investigation, and its findings were based on facts.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, told PREMIUM TIMES that the report was not biased and those found culpable were those who actually participated in the act of violence during the crisis.

He urged those with misgivings to approach the courts as that was the only appropriate means to declare innocence.

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