THE relative peace that was witnessed in Ado Ekiti ,Ekiti State capital after a bloody clash between commercial drivers and some traders of Northern extraction on Wednesday was yesterday shattered when some unknown arsonists set ablaze the popular Oja’ba Market in the heart of the town.
It will be recalled that the scuffle started on Tuesday evening between some commercial drivers and some traders of northern extraction, when a wife of one of the drivers was molested and his hand bag stolen around New Garage/Irona area in the state capital.
There is no clue yet as to the people suspected to have carried out the arson despite the fact that the state government had imposed dust-to-dawn curfew in the state capital.
But a good number of residents are suspicious that enraged traders of Northern extraction might be responsible for the arson, to avenge their losses.
A visit by our correspondent to the burnt market saw a number of traders who lost their shops to the inferno wailing and lamenting their loses amidst heavy presence of armed soldiers and mobile men.
The development has led to the grounding of social and economic life, while most schools did not open for students.
Banks and other financial outfits were closed for businesses, as a measure, it was learnt to prevent hoodlums from exploiting the situation
No fewer than 50 shops as well as two residential buildings were consumed along with goods worth several millions of naira by the midnight fire.
It was learnt that men of the state fire service who got wind of the arson made spirited efforts to put off the fire but to no avail.
Trucks load of mobile and regular policemen as well as soldiers were immediately drafted on the orders of the state government to prevent escalation of the crisis and prevent massive looting.
A number of residents were also randomly arrested by men of the state police command in connection with the development.
Meanwhile, Governor Ayodele Fayose has ordered the evacuation of Hausa community from Atikankan, to a saver place.
Governor Fayose who personally led security team that included the newly posted Commissioner of Police, Mr. Etop James to the scene, expressed worry at the turn of events, despite his imposition of dusk-to-dawn curfew only on Thursday.
He told newsmen in an interview that Friday’s incident would not in any way compel him to declare a 24-hour curfew as being suggested by the people.
Fayose who ordered that four luxurious buses belonging to government be immediately mobilized to convey all Hausa residents (including women and children) in the city to a neutral ground called “Shasha” situated along Ado-Ekiti-Ikere-Ekiti Road, said his action was to protect them from being attacked.
The governor, who, for more than three hours personally stood and monitored the evacuation, premised his action on the fact that he is a father to all residents, irrespective of their tribe, religion or sex.
He said the Hausa community would be at the new place for the time being, and would be heavily guarded by both soldiers and mobile policemen.
In the same circumstance, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Etop James told newsmen in a separate interview that he and his men, who he said were already on top of the situation, worked tirelessly from 1am yesterday to prevent what could have degenerated into an uncontrollable situation.
He said he was challenged by the character of the state governor who abandoned the luxury of Government House to team up with the police in checking the crisis from getting out of hands when he called about 1am midnight.
The police boss warned troublemakers to steer clear of the state while law abiding residents should conduct their daily businesses without any fear.
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