Since 1978 when Share and Tsaragi communities both in Kwara State started a communal crisis over disputed land, it has been a very troubling scenario in the state because hardly will a year pass by that the tensed situation will not be discussed. TOPE SUNDAY, SECURITY MONITOR’ North Central Bureau Chief investigates the age-long communal clash.
For Share and Tsaragi Communities, who are the next door neighbors in Kwara State, it has been a tug of war since 1978, when they initially clashed over a disputed land following the 1976 Local Government Reform by the Federal Government.
The 1978 crisis among the two communities, SECURITY MONITOR, gathered did not record any casualty because principal actors only pelted one another stones and bricks but subsequent fracas recorded casualties and destruction of property.
Between 1978 and now, the two communities had fought for five times with over 100 deaths, while property worth several millions had been lost.
SECURITY MONITOR learnt that the bone of the contention among the two warring communities are the claims over the rightful owners of Kange and alleged transfer of 10 Nupe villages to Share district, when Ifelodun Local Government with its headquarters in the town was created.
With this development, it has accusation and counter-accusation by indigenes of the two communities who are interwoven and engage in intermarriage, with the claims of being the land owners.
The argument and counter-claims among the two communities led to another communal clash in year 2000, 2008 then the recent one on the 19th Decemeber, 2015 which hundreds of lives were lost, property and farmlands worth millions were equally destroyed.
While the previous commissions were said to have favoured Tsaragi community as the rightful owner of the disputed land, the Share Community, explored a legal means to seek redress and fight for its rights..
The magazine gathered further that after the clash in 2008 between the two communities the then Governor of Kwara State, Dr. Bukola Saraki, constituted Justice Mahmud AbdulGafar Judicial Commission of Inquiry which gave birth to the state Government White Paper on Tsaragi/Share Land Dispute from the official Kwara State Gazette No.7vol.43 of 3rd April 2009 on Tsaragi/Share Land Dispute.
The recommendation of the commission mandated that the disputed land should made a Buffer Zone, but Tsaragi community kicked against it, arguing that if Kange village should be converted to a Buffer zone, Goni Area, which is directly behind Tsagari town, should be left alone.
The position of the community was countered by the National Publicity Secretary of Share Descendants Union, Ahmed Ajiboye, who told SECURITY MONITOR that the land in contention belongs to Share community.
He said that the disputed land belongs to Elemosho Alajogun of Share and declared that the submission of the commission is being challenged in court.
While the recent fracas was on, the state government imposed a 24-hour curfew in the two communities and drafted a detachment of security personnel to the two warring communities to restore peace and order.
At the end of the crisis, the Kwara State Police Command disclosed that no fewer than Seventy-two persons were arrested in connection with the recent clash between Share and Tsaragi communities.
The state Police Commissioner, Esosa Amadasun, also said 40 among those arrested were already being prosecuted in court.
The police commissioner, who said that no life was lost in the clash, added that peace and normalcy had since been restored in the two communities.
But the people of Share Community immediately after normalcy returned to the community, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, to quickly intervene to avoid the alleged massive killings of innocent people of the community and destruction of property worth several millions of naira by the irate youths of Nupe speaking tribe of Tsaragi in the state.
The community argued that there was the need for the President Buhari to set up the commission of enquiry in order to bring the perpetrators of the massive killings to book.
The Share descendants union in a statement signed by its National Secretary, Mr. Sunday Ajayi, said: “The murderous acts have led to the massive destruction of lives and property as the Nigeria Police Force presence could not stop the act because of the weapons allegedly wielded by the youths of Tsaragi until the state government imposed curfew and deployed soldiers to the areas.”
“As at the time of reporting this, large compounds namely Agodo, Ana, Sango, Sunjami, Oluawo, Olujide among others were razed completely by the irate youths of Tsaragi community. Also, UMCA, Jerusalem church, mission houses, UMCA primary and secondary schools, Old Native Authority School, Community High School among others were not spared in the attack.”
In his resolve to end the persistent crisis, the state Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, inaugurated a seven-man Commission of Enquiry chaired by Justice Suleiman Akanbi, to look into the clash between Share and Tsaragi communities with the charge to find out the immediate and remote causes of the disturbance between the two communities which occurred on December 19.
He also asked members of the commission to find lasting solutions to the crisis and bring peace to both communities and mandated them to ascertain the extent of the loss of lives and property.
Also, the governor convened a separate meeting with the leaders of the two communities on the need to embrace peace.
But barely after 24 hours after attending the governor’s peace meeting, leaders of Tsaragi community, engaged Governor Ahmed in verbal war and accused him of bias being an indigene of Share.
The Tsaragi elders, who totally rejected the commission set up by him and also called for the setting up of a Reconciliatory Commission.
The community at a press conference addressed by the Wali of Tsaragi, Dr. Muhammad Haruna, in Ilorin last week, said they could not trust Governor Ahmed, being an indigene of Share, to be fair and just in the affairs of a new commission of inquiry and have decided to contest his actions on the latest dispute legally.
Haruna said: “Following the recent outbreak of communal crisis between Tsaragi and Share, the attention of Tsaragi community was drawn to yet another constitution of a judicial commission of Enquiry to investigate the issues that led to the crisis and proffer solutions. It is important to recap that the Federal Government of Nigeria, following the states and local governments creation of 1976, constituted Justice Mamman Nasir’s Boundary Adjustment Commission.
‘’It visited the two communities and its recommendations were accepted by the federal government. A white paper was issued on the report by the Kwara State Government. In 1995/96, the federal government again set up Justice Mbanefo panel. It visited Kwara State and at its public sitting, Share community requested it to review the Mamman Nasir Commission’s recommendations.”
The group, however, alleged that “There have been four commissions on Share/Tsaragi Boundary Dispute since 1975 and all of which were rejected. Having failed to achieve their mission through lawful means, Share community resorted to the use of force, sometimes, by invading Nupe villages with armed youths and ordering the villagers to leave or admit being part of Share District in Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State.
‘’In the light of the one-sided disposition openly displayed by Governor Ahmed, the Nupes of Tsaragi community have no reason whatsoever to participate in another inquiry more so when the recommendations of all the previous commissions/panels on the crisis which have been adopted by the government have not been implemented.
“Clearly, everything points to Governor Ahmed as the stumbling block towards the resolution of the crisis. We observed at meetings attended by Tsaragi community at the Government House that the governor asked questions and provided the answers at the same time, while addressing salient issues.
“We have also observed that he asserted that no community owns lands and threatened land owners to adopt give and take approach. This cannot be the stance of a neutral governor and chief security officer of the state.”
The embattled governor, while reacting to the allegation, described it as shocking, unfair and inappropriate representation of what transpired during the peace meeting he had with the people of the community.
The governor in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Abdul Wahab Oba, said: “For the avoidance of doubt, Gov. Ahmed swore to an oath of office as the governor of the state to be impartial to all, irrespective of ethnic, religious beliefs and other persuasions he can, therefore, not take sides on the matter at hand. The fact that he is from Share by birth cannot in any way influence his decision on matters of the state, especially security related matters.”