PUNCH Metro learnt that the clash, which started around 7am, began when some Hausa youths allegedly attempted to dump the corpse of a man they had reportedly slaughtered in the Maidan River.
A man, who declined to give his name, told our correspondent that, “This morning, we were not far from the river when we saw the Hausa youths trying to dump a corpse in the river. We immediately accosted them and demanded to know where they got it from and what happened to the man. The youths told us he was caught during a robbery.
“The body showed that the man had been brutally beaten. It was noticed that he had been slaughtered too. So, we asked them why they killed him and why did they not hand him over to the police if he was a robber.
“Before we know it, the whole area had been roused and we had been overwhelmed by the Hausa youths. We had to leave the scene after some scuffle.”
The youth told our correspondent that the Hausa residents who stayed behind later burnt all motorcycles in sight.
When our correspondent got to the scene, a large crowd of youths, who were speaking Hausa, were seen destroying shops and kiosks on three streets in the area.
A police helicopter hovered in the sky, while nine police patrol vehicles and a Rapid Response Squad’s Armoured Personnel Carrier were stationed at the scene, but this did not deter the youth from destroying shops.
Three streets; Nuhu Oluwo, Oniyanrin and Adeyeye, were completely taken over by the Hausa youth who wielded clubs, pipes and machetes and other weapons while they ransacked every shop on the streets.
Some of them broke into a shop, pulled down the door and carried away two air conditioners they found inside.
Some of the youth also attempt to pull down the roof of the shops.
Our correspondent noticed that they had earlier broken into other shops on the streets. Other youths were seen grabbing loafs of bread in a shop they had broken into.
However, some older Hausa men were seen appealing to the youth to stop the violence.
A youth who brought out an amulet and wore it on his arm, was told to pocket it, while another man, Alhaji Gambo Limani, slapped a youth who broke a bottle on the ground and wielded it as a weapon.
When our correspondent later spoke to Limani, he said, “I had to caution them because most of these youths are hoodlums. They would blow the problem beyond proportion.
“I really don’t know the basis for this whole crisis because I just got back from Sokoto this morning. My main concern is to ensure they don’t cause crisis in this area.”
When our correspondent asked Limani about the whereabouts of the Sarkin Hausa (head of the Hausa community) of the area, he said the Sarkin had travelled.
Our correspondent reports that Oniyarin Street was completely deserted and the majority of the residents locked themselves up in their residences.
When asked why the area was deserted, a youth said, “These people (Hausa men) are many in this area. They inhabit most of the houses here. Anybody who has his life to protect should not attempt to go close to that area.”
Our correspondent watched from a safe distance as the rampaging youths smashed the windscreen of a bus in the presence of the policemen who made no effort to stop them.
The youths spoke in Hausa, occasionally pointing their sticks at the policemen to dare them.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations in the state, Mr. Tunde Sobulo, later came to the scene and dispersed the youth. He addressed the policemen and gave them directives on how to man the area.
When our correspondent attempted to speak with him, he simply said, “This is operation. I don’t have any comment to make now.”
But the spokesperson of the Lagos State Police Command, Mr. Joseph Jaiyeoba, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone, said the police were being cautious because the clash was between two ethnic groups.
Jayeoba said, “The police got a report early this morning about a corpse of a man that was allegedly killed in Oniyanrin area of Mile 12. Policemen were quickly drafted to the area to remove the corpse. The clash was due to perenial accusations between the Yoruba and Hausa residents.
“In any case, the DCP operations and the area commander have been there to restore peace. The area commander has also invited the heads of the two ethnic groups in the area and all other stakeholders to resolve the issue. Right now the area is calm.”