Twenty-four hours after a bloody clash between Hausa traders and their Yoruba hosts left at least 10 people dead in Mile 12 area of Ketu, Lagos, the atmosphere on Friday was still like a graveyard with malevolent ghosts.
At Church Avenue and Omojuwa Estate environs for example, bullet marks were seen on at least three buildings including a church while more than 20 shack structures housing several low income earning families were reduced to rubbles.
However, angry and sad are an understatement of the way residents felt when our correspondent visited Mile 12 on Friday.
According to him many of them are alive only by the grace of God. He said the situation could have been very bloody.
“They attacked a church and the houses around it; destroyed too many things I cannot mention. The crisis had been on for about four days now and it started in Agility area before spilling to this side. They burnt houses and destroyed shops. They were aided by policemen who just stood there and did nothing to protect the Yoruba. They just killed people and threw their corpses in the fire,” he said.
However, the destruction was also heavy on the side of some of the Hausa traders at the Mile 12 market.
One of the Hausa traders, Danladi Mohammed, told Saturday PUNCH that his entire stock of foodstuffs were destroyed and looted.
Lamenting about the scale of his loss, Mohammed said that the goods were obtained on credit from Kano State.
“These people have finished me,” he said.
I lost my home, now I can’t locate my family – Lawyer
A lawyer, Mr. Mebawondu Adebayo, who lives in the community with his wife and five children battled to contain his emotions while narrating his experience to Saturday PUNCH.
The middle-aged man, who said the entire neighbourhood now lives in fear as a result of rising tension in the area, stated that he doesn’t know where to start from again.
“The situation on Thursday night was so terrible. I was in the court when I received a call from my wife notifying me of what was happening in Mile 12. She told me her life was in danger and when I got home I realised that our entire building had been razed and there was nothing left of our belongings.
“The Hausa left their area and came to our territory and started attacking our innocent women and children. This is not the first time they would be doing such. We don’t understand why we should be slaves and easy targets in our own land. As we speak I don’t know the whereabouts of my wife and five children. The shirt I have on me now was given to me by a friend. Everybody now lives in fear, people can no longer sleep at night. We don’t know how long this will last,” he said.
It would be recalled that among the casualty of the crisis were two schoolchildren, traders, artisans and residents. But apart from the lives lost, the loss in property were noticeably high.
The stories told by many of the landlords and residents who escaped death as youths armed with cutlasses, Molotov cocktail, clubs and daggers, were almost too horrible to be true.
Some neighbourhoods have been totally deserted by residents leaving behind many burnt out houses.
Our house set on fire to smoke us out – Survivor
One of the affected residents of Omowale Street, at Maidan Orile area of Mile 12, whom our correspondents spoke with, 28-year-old Emmanuel Samson, narrated how he waved frantically to security agents stationed about 100 metres away as Hausa youths closed in on his house.
“They were watching everything happening. I waved and waved but the policemen did not move. I ran back inside and the youths set fire to the house just to smoke me out. We could not hide inside the house any longer and had to run out.
“My neighbour, Mr. Andrew Igba, was inside with his 18 month old son. When we ran out of the house, the collected the boy from him and beat him brutally, injuring him with a cutlass on the head. I almost could not believe I would survive that attack. I was able to survive because I ran away when they started chasing Mr. Igba.”
A locked metal gate prevented the attackers from gaining access into the building but a petrol bomb was thrown inside burning parts of the door and a generator at the entrance.
How my son was abducted, almost slaughtered – Survivor
Thirty-nine-year-old Igba, is still recuperating following the brutal beating and cutlass injuries inflicted on him by about 10 Hausa youths who chased after him as he fled with his son.
He explained that he saw a horde of youths, which he estimated to be up to 70 approaching their house.
Igba said, “I had to quickly run out of the house but when they sighted me, about 10 of them chased after me with cutlasses and clubs. When they caught up with me, they started beating me and gave me some cuts. I then became unconscious.
“They must have left me because they thought I was dead. When I came to, I realised that they had taken my son. I started to scream because I believed they were going to kill my son.
“I went to meet some policemen stationed at the junction of our area and they told me that they thought I was dead because they saw when the men were approaching our house and later set fire to it.
“I asked if they had seen anybody with my son. I asked if they could assist me but they said there was nothing they could do. I left the first team and went to meet another set of police team who then told me to go and meet the head of the Hausa community.
“When I went to meet the man, he told me to come back later. By evening, I received a call and I was told that my son had been kept with one Hausa woman. The woman told me that the youths who took my son wanted to slaughter him but that one of them had a change of heart and prevented the killing. The sympathetic youth later took the baby to the woman for safekeeping.
“I am so happy that my wife and my other child were not around during the incident. I don’t know what would have happened.”
All my life savings destroyed – Landlord of 15-roomed building
One of the victims of the crisis is 64-year-old bus driver, Saka Rahmon, who sat in front of his house. The house has nine rooms and a detached part with another six rooms. The entire buildings were allegedly razed by Hausa youths.
He was inches away from sobbing when our correspondent visited the place. Apart from his transport business, the building is his home and source of livelihood.
“My family and I use just few of the rooms, the others were rented out. All of us lost all our belongings in the fire. We were all away at work when the boys struck,” he said.
His tenants were also seen in front of the building speaking angrily and animatedly about the callous youths.
We dare not tell hacked victim’s wife about his death – Resident
At Maidan-Orile where the devastation was horrific, more than 20 houses were burnt including a church and a high tension electricity mast. Three people were killed in the community while at least 10 persons were seriously injured.
One of those killed here was Jelili, a carpenter and father of two who hailed from Iseyin in Oyo State. The man, according to close friends, had gone to pick his children from school and was returning home with them when Hausa rioters hacked and burnt him to death.
A bosom friend of the victim, who identified himself only as Pastor Dare, told Saturday PUNCH that the incident had left a bitter and everlasting mark on the lives of Jelili’s children and wife who looked up to him for survival.
He said they had yet to break the news to the victim’s wife as she could either die on the spot or do something strange.
“Jelili was such an easy going person who never made trouble with anyone. He was returning home with his children whom he had gone to pick from their school when suddenly the Hausa youths attacked and burnt him. His children were not killed but sustained slight injuries as a result. We have yet to break the news to his wife because she could die of shock if it gets to her,” he said.
We have not slept for two days – Trader
A petty trader, Bilikis Banjoko, whose house was also torched during the crisis on Thursday night, said many of them had not slept for almost two days following the incident. She said except the government relocates the market away from Mile 12, peace would never reign in the area.
“We lost our entire property and also five of our youths in the crisis. Many of us have not slept for almost two days because of the situation. We lost freezers, television sets and everything we had ever laboured for. We are pleading with the government to kindly come to our aid and move the market away from this area before Hausa kill us all,” she said.
Everything I have laboured for destroyed in one day – Fashion designer
A fashion designer, Princess Yusuf, was still in tears when our correspondents visited the community on Friday. Apart from losing five sophisticated sewing machines costing not less than N50, 000 each, about N150,000 was also stolen from the safe inside her shop. This is aside properties and electronics that were burnt by Hausa traders who attacked Maidan-Orile where she lives with her family..
“The Hausa who invaded this area broke into my shop through the wall after they couldn’t open the door. They burnt five of my big machines, stole over N150, 000 and also burnt all the electronics in my shop and house. In one day they have destroyed everything I have ever laboured for, this is not fair,” she said.