At least 20 victims of ethnic clashes in Nigeria’s Oyo state have been buried as the federal government condemns ethnic profiling and warns that Nigerians have the constitutional right to live and trade in any part of the country.
The burial took place in Shasha in Oyo on Sunday, in the aftermath of Friday’s clash between Hausa and Yoruba traders at Shasha Market in Akinyele Local Government Area.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo joined President Muhammadu Buhari in condemning the violence and stressed that Nigerians, according to the law, can live and do business in any of the 36 states and the federal capital territory.
Chaos broke out at Shasha Market in Ibadan, South West Nigeria, following a disagreement between a Yoruba man and a northern Hausa resident.
This led to deaths and the displacement of more than 5,000 northerners who lived in the local government.
At least 30 people have been declared missing in clashes between the two tribes, which continued until the weekend despite the curfew.
VP Osibanjo described the incident as an unfortunate mayhem and the loss of lives at the market as tragic and condemnable.
“Shasha market has been a melting pot for traders bringing foodstuffs from the North to the Southwest for decades. For decades traders from the North have done business with their brothers from the South West and they have lived in peace and even inter-married,” he said.
“Shasha is a place of unity, so when a disagreement arises between individuals or a criminal act is committed by one against the other, we must ensure that we see it for what it is - a criminal act, which must be punished according to the law, not an ethnic conflict.”
Mr Osinbajo said it is the duty of the government, through police and other law enforcement agencies, to arrest and prosecute any person who commits a crime against another.
“It is the role of the citizen to assist the police to identify the criminals. We must never take the law into our own hands. If we do, we will be promoting chaos and a breakdown of law and order, and all of us, especially the most vulnerable amongst us, will be at risk,” he said.
“I urge all community leaders to work together to preserve the brotherly co-existence that our people from different parts of the country have enjoyed in Shasha market for several decades.’’
In his reaction on Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to protect all religious and ethnic groups, whether majority or minority, in line with his responsibility under the constitution.
President Buhari warned that the government will not allow any ethnic or religious group to stoke hatred and violence against others.
He condemned such violence and assured that his government will act decisively in order to stop its spread.
The President appealed to religious and traditional leaders as well governors and other elected leaders across the country to join hands with the federal government in ensuring communities are not splintered along ethnic and other primordial lines.
Meanwhile, angry youths on Sunday barred the governors of Oyo and Ondo from visiting the scene of the violence.
Governors Seyi Makinde of Oyo and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo were booed by residents who accused them of a slow response while the crisis was brewing.