One of the victims of the clash between Yoruba and Hausa in Ile Ife, Mojeed Owoyomi, who was rumoured to have been beheaded during the clash, tells FEMI MAKINDE his experience in this interview
What do you do for a living?
I am a ‘vulcaniser’ (tyre repairer) at Sabo area in Ile Ife. That was the place the crisis between Hausa and Yoruba people occurred on March 8.
It was rumoured that you were beheaded and your head was hung on a pole and paraded round the area. What really happened?
It is a lie! I was not beheaded. That is why I am talking to you now. I am not dead, don’t believe that rumour except you cannot see my head sitting on my neck. I am alive. I thank God that I am alive. When the crisis started, I ran away from the scene but they burnt my motorcycle and my engine, the one I use to inflate tyres was carted away. But I realised later that one of my kinsmen was the one who removed the engine to prevent the hoodlums from setting it ablaze. I just collected the engine from the person three days ago.
But my motorcycle that was burnt down completely is my source of worry now because that is where I get my means of livelihood from. We have very few people that patronise us and you can’t depend on repairing tyres to take care of your family in this area.
Are you the only ‘vulcaniser’ in Sabo area?
We are three and the three of us are Yoruba. Gbenga and Mukaila are the two others. Both of them are alive, none of them was injured. The hoodlums burnt Gbenga’s engine (tyre-inflating machine), but Mukaila, whose workshop is even at the spot where the fight started, did not suffer any injury. Nothing even happened to his engine.
Are you aware that some of the people arrested in connection to the clash have been set freed?
Yes, I heard the news also. I was told that the police have released some innocent ones but that those who are culpable are still being held. That is what I heard . But I was also told that no Hausa person was arrested.
Did Hausa people also fight during the clash?
Yes. They fought. I don’t know why they said none of them was arrested. Most of the shops burnt belong to the Yoruba because there are many Yoruba traders in Sabo. The losses were not limited to any particular group.
I don’t know any of them. When the crisis started , the two sides were throwing stones and bottles at each other. We thought that the whole thing would soon stop but we were wrong. Suddenly, we started hearing gunshots and the Hausa also were shooting arrows. I ran away from the scene because in that type of situation, anybody could be shot.
Have you now resumed work at Sabo after the clash?
I have not returned there. People are just returning in trickles. What happened was very serious, so many of the residents and shop owners at the place are still afraid.
Were you at any point invited by the police?
No, I was not arrested. What did I do to warrant being arrested? I and other Yoruba victims went to the palace (Ooni’s Palace) to report and to put on record what we lost during the clash.
But those at the palace instructed us to go and make an official report at the police station and I went. That was the only thing which took me to the police station. I did not fight, I did not steal, nor did I commit arson, so the police are not after me.
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