Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, has said it will assemble over 100 lawyers to defend the 20 indigenes of Ile-Ife, who are being held for their alleged involvement in the recent clash between the indigenes and the Hausa community in the town.
On Wednesday that the organisation had secured the readiness of no fewer than 18 lawyers of Yoruba extraction to represent the accused persons free.
The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja.
He was reacting to the demand for clarifications on a statement by him on the fate of the Ife citizens.
“For now, about 18 Yoruba sons and daughters, who are all lawyers, have expressed interest to defend their brothers who have been falsely accused. Many others are coming to join. At the end, Afenifere will be having over 100 Yoruba lawyers to defend the 20 Ife indigenes,” he said.
In the statement, Afenifere said it would resist the undue deployment of federal troops in the South-West to settle ethnic scores.
It added, “Following the illegal, unconstitutional and sectional parade of 20 Ife indigenes over the recent clashes between the host community and Arewa settlers, Afenifere has vowed to resist the undue deployment of federal might to settle ethnic scores.
“As a first step in this regard, we have assembled a powerful team of lawyers to enforce the fundamental human rights of the 20 abducted Yoruba persons.
“It is a settled law that the investigation and trial of suspects must take place at the scene of the crime. We are appreciative of the many lawyers of Yoruba extraction who have taken up this challenge pro bono.
“The legal team will challenge this subversion of due process while political pressure continues on why two communities will be involved in a fight and only members of one community will be put on trial by a police whose leadership is of the same ethnic group with the other party in the conflict.
“We restate the fact that the Arewa group started the killings in Ife by killing a Yoruba young man. This is clearly missing in the skewed report by the police.
“We appeal to our people to be calm while we pursue the legal angle to this challenge to our pride as a people as the first step.”
Meanwhile, the Civil Societies Coalition for the Emancipation of Osun State has called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to release innocent persons arrested in connection with the clash in Ile-Ife.
The chairman of the group, Mr. Sulaiman Adeniyi, said this in a statement made available to one of our correspondents in Osogbo on Wednesday.
He stated that Yoruba people across Nigeria would rise against the bias, adding that the people would not allow the kind of mindless arrests targeted at the race during the June 12, 1993 impasse to stand.
Adeniyi, who blamed President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Rauf Aregbesola for not saying anything against the biased investigation by the police, argued that the lopsided investigation could pit the people against the police.
The group described the security operatives’ action as unacceptable, barbaric, unfair, satanic, evil, ungodly and a crime against humanity and God.
It added, “The police should live above board in dealing with a situation of this nature by not engaging in action that might trigger another crisis in our society.
“Nothing good will come out of the police investigation than unnecessary tension to the peaceful town.
“Yoruba are not second-class citizens to other ethnic groups in Nigeria and the security operatives’ action is unacceptable and totally rejected by all and sundry.
“Our advice to the Nigeria Police over this matter is to release the innocent residents arrested unconditionally by going for an amicable resolution (of the crisis).
“We do not want a situation where citizens will be attacking police formations in the area if their family members are not released on time.
“As we all know, the Hausa and Yoruba have been living together in Ile-Ife and other towns in Osun State for a very long time and this avoidable Ile-Ife crisis should not be allowed to escalate.
The group called on human rights groups and individual rights activists to rise against what it described as an injustice done to the people of Ile-Ife after the destruction of the lives of the indigenes and their properties.