Nigeria: Traditional intervention fails to quell Nigerian feud

8 September 1997

Lagos (APS) — In spite of the recent constitution of a committee to probe the age-long feud between two ethnic communities in south-western Nigeria, four people have been killed and several injured in renewed fighting between the rival Ife and Modakeke groups.

The fighting in Arokomo village, Osun state last weekend brought the death toll to 79 since hostilities erupted two weeks ago over the moving of a local government headquarters. The Modakeke king, Francis Adedoyin, confirmed the attack and claimed that armed assailants intended to assassinate him in his palace, adding that police had arrested the suspected hired killers. But state police commissioner Sunday Aghedo said he was unaware both of the fighting and the alleged attempt on Adedoyin’s life, the reports said.

The feud initially broke out when the local government decided to relocate a municipal headquarters from Modakeke to a town controlled by the Ife community. A dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed on the two communities by the Osun state government shortly after the outbreak of the fighting was still in force mid-last week residents said.

The two communities, which have no clear boundary, have known mutual suspicion and hatred for almost a century. The last major clashes were in 1983 when hundreds of residents on both sides were killed and property was extensively burned or vandalized.

The Ife, who outnumber the Modakeke, see the latter as “settlers” and “intruders” outstaying their welcome on what they regard as ife land. The Modakeke see the Ife as “landlords” and “slave dealers” who want to keep them in perpetual subjugation.

A high-powered committee of traditional kings was constituted by the Osun state Council of Obas (kings) in Osogbo, the capital of the state, on August 25 to probe the age-long feud between the two neighbours. It was mandated to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the bloody crisis in a bid to recommend a permanent solution.

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