By Ahmed Ajikobi
There was heightened tension, Saturday evening, at Sango area (Kulende), in Ilorin East Local Government Area of Kwara State as Hausa and Yoruba youths clashed over allegation of theft, leaving at least 12 people injured.
Youths from both camps were said to have wielded dangerous weapons before the situation was brought under control by security operatives.
During the melee, residents and passers-by were said to have scampered to safety to avoid being lynched. Also, traders at the popular Sunday-Sunday market at Sango were said to have locked up their shops yesterday until men of the state Police Command arrived the scene of the incident.
According to an eyewitness, the Yoruba youths, who are residents of the area, accused their Hausa counterparts of nefarious activities such as bag snatching from female passers-by, generator and mobile phone theft and shop burglary among others.
It was gathered that the Yoruba youths raised the allegations during a meeting, a development which prompted the Hausas to launch an attack, Saturday night. However, on Sunday morning, the Yoruba youths were said to have fought back in a reprisal attack, leading to bloodshed.
Those injured are said to be receiving treatment at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH).
Speaking with our reporter, a resident of the area, Kazeem Akeem said, “of late, we find it difficult walking in the night in our neighbourhood without being attacked or robbed of our valuables.
Shops are no longer safe from burglars and we hardly sleep with our two eyes closed.”
Another resident, who simply identified himself as Lekan said the Hausa youths regularly disguise as scavengers to commit crimes in the area.
He added that the Yoruba residents had earlier identified some of the criminals among the Hausas and warned them to desist from such act.
“In the night, they (Hausa youths) always snatch bags from ladies passing by, in addition to stealing generators and snatching mobile phones and burglary of shops and homes,” he alleged.
Speaking further, he said, “What actually led to the clash was that on Saturday evening, a lady complained to Yoruba youths in the area that her mobile phone had been snatched while passing through Sango.
“Most of those Yoruba youths however said the Hausas should be held responsible for the phone theft and in the process, the information got leaked to the Hausa youths, who wielded weapons and attacked their Yoruba compatriots Saturday night.
“In return, the Yorubas, this morning (Sunday) retaliated in similar fashion.”
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Ajayi Okasanmi, confirmed the arrest of seven suspects.
“It was a misunderstanding between some Hausa and Yoruba boys that resulted in the crisis.
“As soon as information got to us, our officers were immediately drafted to the area to restore peace,” he said, adding that two of the suspects are presently in the hospital receiving treatment, while five are in detention undergoing investigation and will soon be charged to court.
Meanwhile, when our reporter visited the scene of the incident around 4:00pm, normalcy has returned to the area as fully armed policemen were stationed at strategic locations.