Save for the quick intervention of the police who are resident in one of the towns, several lives would have been lost and properties worth millions of Naira would have been destroyed in a land dispute, which made two of the seven Origbo communities; Ipetumodu and Ashipa, who have lived together peacefully for several centuries to draw daggers against each other, reports TUNDE OYEKOLA who visited the two communities…
Apprehension, fear and tension gripped residents of Ipetumodu and Ashipa communities in Ife North Local Government Area of Osun State following continuous dispute over a parcel of land in the two communities. The crisis which started on Wednesday January 14, 2015 left over one hundred houses burnt by the angry youths in the two communities while some people sustained various degrees of injuries. It would have degenerated into war if not for the quick intervention of policemen stationed in the town. No life was, however, reported loss in the fracas that went into another week.
Ipetumodu residents allegedly entered land…
It was gathered that the fracas ensued when residents of Ipetumodu allegedly entered the land which was said to belong to Ashipa community. A resident of Ashipa, who spoke to news men, said the people of Ipetumodu were the aggressors, accusing them of trespassing on the land which he claimed belong to the forebears of Ashipa community. Sources in the two communities said the crisis, which resulted into the shooting of some persons started on Wednesday January 14 with sound of gun booming even on Thursday as the fighters from the two communities engaged in the battle of supremacy. It was gathered that some armed youths blocked the road linking the two warring communities and prevented armed policemen from interfering in the crisis. But for the presence of the policemen in the community, the troubled could have led to war as the atmosphere was still tense as at 5:pm on that fateful day.
Apetu of Ipetumodu blames Ashipa Community…
The Apetu of Ipetumodu, Oba James Adegoke, blamed the crisis on the people of Ashipa community whom he alledged invaded his community and set many houses ablaze including the hostels built by the monarch, which housed pre-degree students of Obafemi Awolowo, University, Ile Ife, located in the community. He alleged that the fighters from Ashipa community stormed Ipetumodu and chased out 46 students who resided in the hostel before setting their property ablaze.
One of the victims from Ipetumodu, who identified himself as Baale Akinola, said that he was shot by the rampaging hoodlums from Ashipa but escaped death as another person, Kola Adewale, informed WESTERN POST that Ipetumodu community gave Ashipa indigenes access to farm on their land in the past, saying that “the people of Ashipa were now in the habit of selling the land from where they were allowed to farm without recourse to the genuine owner of the land.
He said: “ They are few in number and that is why we don’t want to overrun them. But they have taken us for granted for too long and we will react one day.”
A resident of Ipetumodu, who identified himself as Taiwo, said residents of Ashipa community invaded their town and set ablaze buildings including students’ hostels where some pre-degree students of the OAU were living.
Taiwo said: “Hoodlums from Ashipa community invaded our town and started shooting and destroying houses. They set some buildings on fire and people ran away.”
However, another resident who claimed to be from Ashipa community accused residents of Ipetumodu of being the aggressors.
Aregbesola’s peace meeting…
But leaders of the two warring communities on Monday January 19 embraced one another to demonstrate that they had agreed to sheathe their swords over the disagreements that culminated in the communal clash following the governor’s intervention. At the peace meeting were the Apetu of Ipetumodu, Oba James Adegoke, and the representative of the Alashipa of Ashipa, Ojediran Olaleke, chiefs and leaders of the township associations of both communities.
The Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, in whose presence the leaders of the community embraced one another charged the two warring communities to ensure promotion of communal peace and progress, which is one of the cardinal programmes of his administration or face government sanctions. Aregbesola at the peace meeting urged the monarchs and leaders of the two communities to warn the youths not to further engage in acts that could jeopardise the peace of the communities and the state in general.
He told them to always uphold the ethos of ‘Omoluabi’ for which the state is known , saying that development can only thrive in an atmosphere where there is peace and unity.
Aregbesola also said that a committee would be set up look deeply into the remote cause and solution to the problems identified by the leaders of the two communities.
According to him, “It is so sad that this is happening at a point that investors are coming into the state on a daily basis and your communities have decided to solve your differences through fight which we have all seen here as unnecessary.
“With the on-going clash in your domains commercial activities have been brought to a halt and property destroyed, students who have nothing in your dispute are made to bear the brunt by the burning of their hostel. Why should students be given the opportunity to have a bad impression about your communities?
“I am not happy that this is happening in our land, it doesn’t send a good signal, shooting of gun doesn’t speak good of us, we should find a lasting solution to these happenings”.
He threathened: “Henceforth, any of the two communities found wanting will be seriously dealt with, because we will not allow anything short of peace and security in the state”.
But, despite Governor’s intervention, the crisis between Ipetumodu and Ashipa on Wednesday January 21, took a new dimension as some pre- degree students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, subsequently escaped being killed when the crisis erupted. However, it was gathered that some people were injured in the renewed clash on Wednesday.
The Public Relations Officer of the Osun State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Mr. Ayo Olowe, confirmed the crisis to our correspondent over the telephone.
He said: “There was a crisis and some houses were burnt especially in Ipetumodu. Some persons were said to have stormed the town, vandalised the students’ property and set the buildings ablaze. They said that they brought out the students’ belongings before setting the hostels ablaze.”
Commission of Enquiry…
And as part of move to settle the crisis between Ipetumodu and Ashipa over a land tussle, Governor Aregbesola has inaugurated the Judicial Commission of Enquiry to find the causes of the fracas between the two communities. According to Information officer, Ministry of Justice, Mr. Opeyemi Bello, Aregbesola set up the panel on Tuesday and urged the commission to find out the fact about the crisis. According to the statement, the Governor stated that the primary purpose of government is explicitly stated in Section 14 (2)b of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and one of the cardinal points of six-point integral action of his administration is to enhance communal peace and progress. Exercising the powers conferred on him by Section 2 (1) of the Commission of Inquiry Law, Cap. 29 Law of Osun, Aregbesola said it is desirable to inquire into the causes of Ipetumodu and Ashipa Towns Communal clash and disturbance of public peace that started on 13th of January 2015.
However, the Governor told the committee to submit it report within six weeks.”Today, we are inaugurating this commission to secure our trophy. The job of the commission is clear cut: to hear, investigate and advise government on matters relating to disturbance of public peace and to provide template to end communal clash within the state,” Aregbesola stated.
The Chairman of the commission is Honourable Justice Jide Falola, with Messers Adelowo Adewumi, Mufutau Adeleke, Charles Chima (Assistant Commissioner for Police), Arc. Elijah Ojo and Mr. Taofik Komolafe as Secretary Chairman of the Commission, Justice Falola, said they accepted to serve the state because of their conviction that government meant well in finding ways to ensure public peace in the state, assuring that “we shall do everything possible to ensure Justice, peace and progress of the generality of the people of the state of Osun in general.”