Nigeria: Traditional Monarchs To Probe Nigeria’s Ethnic Clashes

1 September 1997

Lagos (APS) — A committee of traditional kings has been constituted to probe clashes between the Ife and Modakeke communities in south-west Nigeria, in which about 75 persons have been killed within the past two weeks.

The Osun state Council of Obas (kings) and Chiefs set up the high-powered committee on August 25 in Ogogbo, capital of the state, to look into the age-long feud between the Ife and their Modakeke neighbours.

The seven-man committee was mandated to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the bloody crisis, especially in the past week, and recommend a permanent solution to the crisis.

Fighting has stopped in Ife and Modakeke in the past few days but newspaper reports here say that five persons were killed at Arokomo village early on August 24 when assailants stormed it.

Fighting also took place at Deebo and Toba villages while 1,800 persons displaced by the assailants are now taking refuge at the palace of the traditional king of Modakeke.

Members of the Ife and Modakeke communities have since August 15 engaged in bloody clashes over the relocation of the headquarters of a local government common to the two communities.

The Osun state government, which on August 14 moved the headquarters from Enuwa to Oke-Ogbo, a community controlled by Ife, imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the two feuding communities and deployed riot policemen to these towns and nearby villages.

Twelve residents of the two communities have been brought before an Ife court and charged with felony, arson, rioting and causing a breach of the peace. Ten other suspects still in police detention over the disturbances would be charged as soon as the investigation into their cases was completed, the police stated.

The clashes were triggered when about 5,000 Modakeke youths took to the streets and chanted slogans which the Ife community said insulted their traditional king, Oba Okunade Sijuade.

The Ife people confronted them and a bloody confrontation followed, in which scores of people were also injured and houses and vehicles were vandalised.

Peace is gradually returning to the towns, according to residents and local press reports. Commercial vehicles which disappeared from the streets in the two towns are gradually returning while shops and offices have also started to reopen. But police are still mounting surveillance on the two towns and their villages.

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