As part of the efforts to broker a truce between the feuding Ikere and Hausa communities over a land dispute at the Shasha area of Ikere- Ekiti, the Ekiti State Government, has cautioned interested parties against stoking enmity that could affect peaceful coexistence among diverse ethnic groups in the state.
The government also promised to resolve issues causing disaffection between Ikere land owners and the traders, to promote unity and safety of all Nigerians that are resident in Ekiti, as promised by Governor Biodun Oyebanji during his inauguration.
The Ekiti State Deputy Governor, Chief Mrs Monisade Afuye, gave the assurance, on Monday, during a meeting convened by the government to settle the rift between Ogoga-in Council and Hausa traders operating in Shasha Market in the town.
The Deputy Governor, in a statement by her Media Aide, Victor Ogunje, averred that the meeting was summoned, sequel to a security report by the police over looming skirmishes between Ikere and Hausa communities at Shasha market, located along Ado-Ikere road.
The Ogoga in Council accused Hausa traders of encroaching on Ikere lands, resisting attempts for the construction of modern toilets and boreholes, frustrating payment of rates to the local government, and lack of mutual respect for the traditional ruler, among other accusations that had pitted the two sides against each other.
While meditating in the simmering crisis at her office in Ado Ekiti, Mrs Afuye, promised that the state government will constitute a four-man committee to ascertain the authenticity of all the accusations raised by parties and find lasting solutions to them.
She said; “All of us are one in Nigeria, it is only the tribes that are different. We are going to handle this matter dispassionately so that all the interests will be taken care of.
“But let me say this, the Hausa traders in Shasha must be ready to pay rates to boost the revenue of the Local Government and respect the host community. Your rights won’t be breached as well. Nobody will harass you. You have to respect Ogoga and obey his commands for peace to reign.
“We have listened to you, we are going to set up a committee to probe into all your claims. We want to assure you that landowners to be compensated will be compensated.
“Allow the Local Government Chairman to erect the planned lock-up shops at Shasha Market for your use. Don’t resist attempts being made to develop the market. But I want to assure you, nobody will build toilets and boreholes at the plot where your shops got burnt”.
Tracing the genesis of the crisis, the Ogoga of Ikere, Oba Adejimi Adu-Alagbado, represented by Sapetu of Ikere, Prof. Babatola Olufemi, expressed disapproval at how the Hausa traders were allegedly disrespecting his council and shunning entreaties being devised to resolve the issue.
Oba Adu- Alagbado, revealed that he had sent emissaries to the Hausa traders thrice to embrace dialogue on issues of encroachment on lands and unpreparedness to pay rates, but such attempts were allegedly thwarted by some interested personalities at the market.
The monarch said it was disheartening that the traders could resist an attempt by a private organisation to construct toilet facilities in the market over flimsy excuses, urging them to cooperate with his town to maintain peace and orderliness.
“The Hausa traders were not allowing our market women to operate freely in the market. Most surprising was the way they removed all the flags and signs we erected to show lines of demarcations on our lands. This was a disrespect to Ogoga-in-Council and land owners.
“Let me also say this, the government only allocated five hectares of land to them in 2004. They were also given a Certificate of Occupancy(C of O). But the new C of O covering over 20 hectares of land was done in 2021 without the knowledge of land owners and Ikere community”.
Absolving his people of complicity in the crisis brewing in the market, the Chairman, Hausa Community, Ekiti State, Alhaji Adamu Imam, described the traders as peaceful and tolerant, claiming that the land under dispute was acquired legitimately.
Imam posited that his people neither encroached on lands belonging to individuals in Ikere Ekiti nor resisted attempts to develop the market.
“We have never thought that the lands belonged to us. But where they wanted to build the toilets was where some shops belonging to Hausa people got burnt recently. Even the toilets built by the Federal Government there were not well utilised.
“We have the documents backing the ownership of the land. We have the C of O. We are assuring you that we will visit Kabiyesi Ogoga to resolve this issue because we are law-abiding and peaceful citizens”.
Ekiti State govt mediates in Ikere, Hausa traders’ land dispute