The Governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, has inaugurated a five-member judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the remote causes of the March 8 violence in Ile-Ife.
The development followed several calls from pan Yoruba groups such as Afenifere, the Afenifere Renewal Group, and the Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, to set up a commission of enquiry to unravel the facts behind the killings and wanton destruction of properties.
They had rejected the report of the police on the crisis and condemned what they termed the lopsided arrest of suspects in the crisis.
While inaugurating the commission in Osogbo on Saturday, Mr. Aregbesola said his administration would continue to promote peace in the state.
He also enjoined the panel to cooperate with the police and other security agencies in the process of unravelling those behind the mayhem.
The panel was given four weeks to turn in its report.
Members include Justice M.A Adeigbe who is the chairman, Bose Dawodu, Ismail Ajibade, the State Commissioner of Police, the State Director of DSS and Bisi Babalola who will act as the secretary.
The Governor charged the commission to “investigate and determine the remote and immediate cause of the disturbance, identify the perpetrators and extent of involvement, determine the extent of injury suffered by any individual or group.”
They were also mandated to recommend appropriate civil or criminal action to be taken against the perpetrators, make appropriate suggestions to the state government towards the prevention of future occurrence and also recommend appropriate monetary sum as compensation(s) for damages or injuries that may have been suffered by any individual or group of individuals.
“You have four weeks to carry out this assignment,” the governor said.
Mr. Aregbesola added that “The report that small arms and light weapons were deployed freely during the crisis was disturbing and frightening.
“It has implication for security of lives and property and the potential for more conflicts beyond the immediate theatre of war, if not nipped in the bud.
“I want you to look into this. The sources and the current location of these arms and their custodians should be investigated and determined. They should all be recovered.
“There are also reports that cultists who have no regard for human lives were recruited into the mayhem for a fee. This is most disheartening. Please investigate this and unearth the roles they played and let the law be applied without fear or favour.
“I charge this commission to be courageous and fearless. Undertake this assignment with all seriousness and the fear of God. You should pursue the truth and not fear where it will lead to.
“We want justice for all, like Martin Luther King Jr, once said, ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream’, to the victims and the perpetrators alike, as I wish you success on this crucial assignment.”
Mr. Aregbesola also warned against pre-empting the outcome of ongoing investigation of the crisis, saying it would be prejudicial to the efforts of the law enforcement agencies.
He said the violence was not an ethnic or religious one, but “just an ugly development, a breach of public peace, masterminded by hoodlums and criminals which resulted into loss of lives and property.”
Mr. Aregbesola called for cooperation and patience with the police and other law enforcement agencies until the outcome of the final investigation. He said the police and other agencies had assured of even handedness and that the rule of law would be strictly adhered to and allowed to prevail.
He said the opinion of those fanning the embers of discord between the Hausa and Yoruba should be disregarded, stressing that it was unwise and wicked for anybody to describe the violence in the Sabo area of Ile-Ife as a religious or tribal war.
In his response, Chairman of the judicial commission of enquiry, Mr. Adeigbe, who thanked the governor for the opportunity to serve the people of Osun, promised that the commission would discharge its job without fear or favour.
He said the commission would go all out to ensure that the real perpetrators of the dastardly act are brought to book and ensure that all warring factions are appeased.
“Mr. Governor, I assure you that we will not let you and the people of Osun down, we will carry out this task you have given us to the best of our ability,” he said.
“Myself and my members will ensure that the perpetrators of the sad event which occurred at Ife are brought to book.
“We will ensure that it doesn’t happen again in Osun. We will do our job without fear or favour to anyone or group in the matter.”