Ife Crisis: Again, Afenifere accuses police of bias, victimisation

Ife ethnic crisis

The pan Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has called on the police to return the suspects arrested in connection with the crisis in Ile-Ife to Osun State where the incident took place.

The group also accused the police of bias in the way it handled the ethnic clash, largely between Hausas and Yorubas in Ile-Ife, Osun State.

It urged the police to investigate the crisis with utmost fairness and in line with the ethics of the profession.

It condemned the parade and trial of the suspects in Abuja, insisting that they should be brought to Osun for trial.

The group made the declarations after a meeting at the Akure home of the leader, Reuben Fasoranti, on Tuesday.

The publicity secretary of the group, Yinka Odumakin, while reading the communique after the meeting, said Afenifere condemned the actions of the police, especially the arrest of only Yorubas. It accused the police of bias and sectionalism in the way it handled the matter based on the order from above.

“Afenifere becomes worried with the way the police handled the Ife crisis, especially considering the fact that the leadership of the presidency and that of the police are from one of the sections involved in the crisis,” he said.

The group asked the police to stop ‘dehumanizing’ the suspects.

“The police intimidated, harassed and embarrassed the Yoruba people of Ile-Ife. They arrested some Yoruba people in the town and even pronounced them guilty without any trial,” Mr. Odumakin said.

“Up till now, the suspects are not arraigned, neither were they tried, yet the police pronounced them guilty.

“The police remains a federal institution which is for all Nigerians regardless of tribe or ethnic affiliation. The police should not be seen as an institution for a particular ethnic group, as we are being made to understand through their actions now.

“The suspects should be brought to Osun State where the offence was allegedly committed and they should be tried there. If they are found guilty, they should be punished in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We are not in support of criminal acts, neither are we in support of cheating, like the police are doing.

“While sympathising with the victims of the Ife crisis, including the Hausas and the Yorubas, especially those who lost their lives, we call for thorough investigation into the matter to determine the cause of the crisis and also punish those involved to serve as deterrent for others.

“However, we condemn the police for arresting only Yoruba people and also parading them. We are worried with the way the police pronounced them guilty without being tried. This shows that the police are sectional in the handling of this matter involving two different ethnic groups. How could people be called criminals without being tried?

“The office of the state Attorney General should be given roles to play in our constitution. In the case of the Ife crisis, the office of the Attorney General of Osun State and the Ministry of Justice as a whole should be the one to advise the police on the matter. The Osun State Police Command should be the one to investigate the crisis with the state Ministry of Justice and not the police headquarters.

“Those penalized should be brought back to Osun State forthwith. They should not be tried in Abuja or any other place where the offence was not committed. Also, the police should stop dehumanising the suspects and show that they are for all Nigerians and not for a particular ethnic group in the country.”

The group had earlier constituted a legal team to defend the suspects yet to be arraigned by the police.

However, the police had denied the allegation of bias, claiming it carried out a thorough job and arrested those found culpable.

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