There was pandemonium at the Bodija market in Ibadan on Friday as Yoruba and Hausa traders clashed, resulting in the destruction of goods worth millions of naira.
No one could say categorically what triggered the clash, except what many of the traders regarded it as a built-up anger over the downturn in their economy since the killing of 14 Yoruba traders in Borno State on May 4 and June 28 this year, where they had gone to buy beans.
Since the killing of their colleagues (the second incident) on June 28, Yoruba traders have stopped travelling to the north-eastern state, where the specie of beans (Oloyin) loved by people in the South-West is usually found at cheaper price.
However, Hausa traders in Bodija market were said to have been receiving regular supply of the commodity from their kinsmen and had been selling same at exorbitant prices to traders willing to buy and re-sell.
This had resulted in a hike in the price of beans, which has risen to N550 per measure, against N280 for which it was sold before the Borno killing of the traders.
Pent up anger, however, boiled over on Friday afternoon while Muslim faithful were observing Jumaat in mosques, leading to the disruption of the peace of the entire market.
Different weapons like sticks, stones and iron rods were freely used, with the Yoruba traders chanting that they would no longer keep quiet over the agenda of the Hausa to take over commerce in the market.
One of the traders, Saidi Baoku, who spoke with Saturday Tribune, alleged that the Hausa traders in the market were trying to take food off their tables by killing their business.
He further insinuated that the killing of the traders in the market was masterminded by the Hausa traders to pave way for their control of the market, as the Yoruba traders would no longer be able to go to the North to buy foodstuffs.
He said that the over N40 million lost by the slain traders was not as painful as their lives that were brutally terminated.
“We have tried to be patient but we have seen that if we don’t fight for ourselves, these Hausa will continue to cheat us in our own land.
After all, the driver of the vehicle in which the 10 traders were was not killed. We want everybody and government to come to our aid and help so that we don’t die of hunger,” he stated.
Baoku also said that no one could say what triggered yesterday’s fight but said that the Yoruba traders just decided to join in the fight because it was for their cause.
While speaking on the development, the Chairman of Ibadan North Local Government, Hon. Idris Lapade, told Saturday Tribune that the market had been shut, saying that prompt intervention of men and officers of the Nigeria Police, officials of the Directorate of State Security and Operation Burst, led by the Area Commander in charge of Agodi Area Command, prevented the crisis from escalating beyond manageable level.
“We are trying to evacuate the Yoruba before asking the Hausa to leave, because they might be attacked if they move out at the same time. The market belongs to the local government; it is not anyone’s property. All we are trying to ensure is peace,” Lapade said.
He revealed that there was a security meeting two days before the incident where it was decided that the two parties should be invited, adding that leaders of the traders also held a meeting with the Commissioner of Police a few hours before the crisis, and were yet to get back to the market when the mayhem broke out.
He opined that the fight must have resulted from built-up tension.
The Public Relations Officer of the Bodija arm of the Ibadan Foodstuff Sellers Association, Mr Hakeem Emiola, also corroborated the chairman’s statement that no one knew how the Friday crisis started, saying that it was only God that had been helping the executive to contain the anger of the traders.
He noted that the anger was based on the fact since the Yoruba stopped going to the North to buy beans, the Hausa over there had been sending the foodstuff to their kinsmen in Bodija market.
He said this was what led to the meeting with the police commissioner where it was agreed that the foodstuff coming in should be shared equally between the two groups – which was readily agreed to by the Hausa.
Speaking on the disruption of peace at the market, the Police Public Relations Officer, Olabisi-Okuwobi, said that the Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Indabawa, called for a meeting due to an intelligence report at his disposal that there might likely be crisis in the market.
“Both parties agreed to toe the path of peace, but it seems that the youth in the market heard about the outcome and were not happy with it. They started destroying beans, pepper and other goods in the market.
However, the police commissioner quickly drafted several teams of patrolmen, led by the Area Commander, ACP Peter Okoh, as well as an Armoured Personnel Carrier, to quell the protest,” she stated further.
Commenting on the development and the possibility of a spillover of such violence to Osogbo, the Osun State capital, a top security official said “Osun cannot witness tribal clash or hostility in any form.”
The official, who pleaded anonymity, said “Northerners in this state have been coexisting peacefully with their host communities here, and few days ago, we held a meeting with Hausa and Fulani traders.”
He stressed that “adequate and effective security measures have been put in place to sustain the reigning peace and harmony in all the nooks and crannies of Osun.”