Traders and artisans from the Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State are up in arms against the Baatonu (Bariba) people in parts of Kwara State over trading rights.
The people who are mostly foodstuff traders and artisans in different locations in Baruten Local Government Area of Kwara State staged a peaceful protest to the palace of the Okere of Saki and Saki West Local Government Secretariat on Tuesday. They threatened that they would cease to transact businesses with people in Baruten Local Government henceforth unless those ones stopped their hostilities.
The people, who carried leaves and chanted songs to express their displeasure over the attitude of their Baruba neighbours, said that they had suffered losses while the crisis had lasted.
The people, under the aegis of United Yam Flour Sellers Association of Nigeria, Saki branch, otherwise called “Olowo-apo”, said that the Baruten people had made the business environment difficult for them.
Despite the plea by the Saki West council chairman who, it was learnt, promised to intervene in the matter, the people said that they would also retaliate by preventing the Baruba people from coming to Saki, Igbeti or Igboho in Oke Ogun area to transact any business.
One of the chieftains of the association, Mr. Okunlola Olalere, while addressing members of the association in Saki, said that the Baruten people had formed a task force in all the Baruba towns, with a purpose of serving as intermediary to prevent the Yoruba traders from having one-on-one contact with farmers and other suppliers in Baruba land.
“We’ve been the ones who used to go and look for what to buy in Baruba villages and pay our customers there. But, they now want us to pass through them and to give them money for what we want to buy. We find this unacceptable because we don’t know them or where to look for them in case of any ugly incident.
“They seize our goods whenever we don’t pass the transaction through them. They said it’s their land. The goods that got seized by the people are gone for good or destroyed. Sometimes, they demand exorbitant charge on goods seized before they are returned to the owner. This matter is not only about yam flour sellers, but it also affects welders, bricklayers, carpenters, tailors and all artisans who are of Yoruba stock.
“Please, we call on Governor Seyi Makinde, the Saki West local government chairman, the Okere of Saki, among other stakeholders to help look into this matter and find lasting solution to it. We’ll only return to our business when the matter is settled. We’re ready to return to our business transaction when we’re allowed free access to trade”.
The traders, who said they had made efforts towards achieving peace before now, added that they had visited Baruten, Okere of Saki’s palace and a sociocultural organization, called Saki Parapo.
Olalere, who said that the Okere of Saki had met with traditional rulers among other stakeholders in Baruten over the matter, lamented that the intervention to achieve peace had not yielded desired fruits till date.
“Our stand is that we won’t want to witness loss of lives among our people nor experience loss of property of our people. So, to give chance for peace, all of us under the aegis of the United Yam Flour Sellers Association of Nigeria Saki branch, otherwise called ‘Olowo-apo’, will stop all forms of business transactions with the Baruten people henceforth”.
Some residents of the area also lamented that the situation created by the crisis would help none of the affected people.
Abdulrosheed Adeola said that the Yoruba people had threatened to stop Baruba vehicles from passing through their area or transact business.
“This development will surely affect socioeconomic lives and progress in the areas. So, I call on relevant stakeholders to intervene with intention of finding lasting solution to the disagreement. I also want the people to toe path of peace in their actions,” he said.
Speaking on the development, however, the Public Relations Officer of the Kwara State police command, Toun Ejire-Adeyemi, said that peace had returned to the area after recent interventions by major stakeholders in the areas.
The PPRO said that reports from the Divisional Police Offices in Yashikira and Ilesa-Baruba of the Baruten local government area pointed to relative peace in the areas.
“All talks of crisis are mere rumours. The DPOs are constantly keeping in touch with local government chairmen and major stakeholders involved. In case of anything, they’ll report it. But for now, there’s relative peace and business is moving on as usual. Movement is free and no blockage of roads. The DPOs are constantly keeping in touch with members of the NURTW and other transporters in the area to allow peace to reign.
“The peace talk is also continuing among the relevant stakeholders. The aggrieved people are being told to embrace peace and resolve their differences amicably.”
A member of the House of Representatives, representing Irepo/Orelope/Olorunsogo Federal Constituency, Prince Olaide Mohammed, in his comment on the development, said that, “in these trying times, it is crucial for us to come together as a united front to restore peace and harmony in our community.
I earnestly appeal to every resident, regardless of our diverse backgrounds (be it Yoruba or Ibaruba), to prioritize peace and unity. Let us rise above our differences and stand together as brothers and sisters under the banner of Nigeria.
“Ensuring the safety of our community is of utmost importance. I am explicitly calling upon all security agencies in Nigeria, with a special plea to the army unit in the area, to intervene promptly and enforce orderliness. Security is our highest priority.
“In my capacity as the deputy chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Pensions, I am collaborating closely with esteemed colleagues in both Oyo and Kwara states. Together, our goal is to find lasting solutions to the current challenges and prevent the recurrence of such unfortunate events.
“Comprehensive strategies are actively being developed to ensure the prevention of similar events in the future. Your safety and the security of the Baruten community are at the forefront of our agenda.
“Our strength lies in unity. By working together, we can overcome these challenges and build a community that thrives on peace, cooperation, and shared prosperity.
“I implore each one of you to actively contribute to the restoration of peace in Okuta, Chikanda, and other areas of Baruten, Kwara state. Your cooperation is crucial in achieving this vision,” he said.
Also, the Kwara State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Abdullahi Bata, and the Baruten Local Government TIC Chairman, Hon. Rasheed Lafia, sued for peace and restated the commitment of the Governor Abdulrazaq-led administration to sustaining the age-long peaceful and mutually beneficial relationship between Kwara and Oyo states.
In their separate remarks, the Okere of Saki Land and Iba of Kisi Land assured the Kwara State Government of their commitment to continue ensuring peaceful coexistence among people from the neighbouring states and applauded the swift response from the state government to putting the crisis under control.
The age-long mutual and cordial relationship between the neighbouring communities of Kwara and Oyo states is being threatened by a disagreement among indigenes of the Baruten local government area of Kwara state and people of Oke-Ogun (Oyo North) which reportedly started in November 2023.
Mid January, the Speaker, Kwara state House of Assembly, Hon. Yakubu Danladi-Salihu, led a state government delegation to a meeting with both Baruba and Yoruba traditional rulers in attendance, aimed at settling the rift among the people.
Earlier, a misunderstanding among the two neighbours resulted in riots, property loss, injuries, and loss of lives in Okuta, Chikanda, Ilesha Baruba, Kosubosu, Gure, and other parts of the Baruten local government. The two sides reportedly suffered the losses.
At a meeting held at Kosubosu, headquarters of Baruten Local Government and attended by the Okere of Saki and Ibà of Kisi, both from the neighbouring Oyo State as well as a delegation of the Baruba and Yoruba communities, the leader of the Kwara state delegation, and the Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Hon Danladi-Salihu, reiterated commitment of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq-led administration to sustainable peace, saying that if the lingering conflicts left unresolved, could put into shred the age-long mutual and cordial relationship between the communities of Kwara and Oyo states.
“I must commend the proactive measures taken by our royal fathers; the Okere of Saki and the Ibà of Kisi to put the crisis under control, you have done wonderfully well as traditional leaders and I would like to urge you to keep playing the fatherly role of talking to our people to maintain and sustain the age-long friendly relationship we have among ourselves”.
The Speaker also acknowledged the support of the Emirs of Òkúta, Ilesha-Baruba, Yashikira, and Gwanara, who also attended the meeting for their efforts towards maintaining peace in the land, urging them to “keep talking to the people on the need to avoid war at all cost, saying that no price should be too much to pay for peace to reign.”
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