This article examines separately two different incidents of accidental bomb blast at Ikeja Cantonment, and ethnic conflict between the Yoruba and Hausa at Idi-Araba, Mushin in the suburb of Lagos. These incidents which took place at two different locations at Lagos in Nigeria were fundamental and painful because of the magnitude of displacements caused by these two incidents by rendering thousands of people homeless, sent hundreds to the grave beyond, destroyed many properties including buildings and besides, they called for government attention to give succour to the plight of the affected people. The paper further points out that forced/involuntary migration can be responsible for human displacement without people necessarily crossing international boundary. This became the fate of scores of Nigerians who were forcefully displaced through the accidental bomb blast which occurred on 27 January, and ethnic conflict which occurred on 2nd and 4th February 2002.
Even though, the political entity subsequently called Nigeria was colonized by the British Government; the fact remains that, Nigeria was never a British creation. Rather, the various Nigeria’s boundaries were delimited by the British Government only after the indigenous cultural geography had already been established. However, before colonization, contemporary Nigerian formation was composed of state systems called differently as empires, a caliphate, kingdoms, chiefdoms and village republics (Oyovbaire 1981: 356; Oyovbaire 1983: 6). But before the British occupation, these different societies had attained different stages of development (Post 1964:169). With the manner in which European nations descended on Africa during the closing years of the nineteenth century, Nigeria gradually became British possession. British penetration into Nigeria began from the annexation of Lagos in 1861.
British penetration to Nigeria was multifaceted. There was a penetration through Lagos which was extended into Yoruba hinterland in order to control Lagos. The occupation of the South-eastern part of Nigeria was taken over by the British Foreign Office. The North was developed and secured for British enterprise (Osuntokun 1979:92). Having gradually penetrated, the British government devised separate forms of government over these areas which conformed not only to the structure of the societies concerned but also to their legal positions (Okafor 1981:1). Thus at the Lagos Colony, Crown Colony type of government existed which was based on the twin pillars of imperial control and a strong local authority. It was characterized by the Governor, the Executive and Legislative Councils. At the Protectorate, the Protectorate system of government existed both in the south and in the north.
In the protectorate, the High Commissioner was the representative of the British Crown and also, the head of the Executive. It had no Executive nor the Legislative Council. These two were entrusted to the High Commissioner. With this arrangement, the British Government, following incessant quarrels over issues relating to boundaries was dissatisfied with the system of maintaining three separate administrative units. This was followed by amalgamation which was first suggested by Sir Ralph Moor (Anjorin 1967:72) and was followed by the 1898 Selborne Committee which investigated the need for amalgamating the different entities of Nigeria of which 1914 climaxed the whole process (Ballard 1971:333). And by this exercise, Nigeria became one political unit having an area of 913,072 square kilometers, a distance of 1,120 kilometres from west to east and 1,040 kilometres from south to north (Afigbo 1991:14).
The country has three macroregions in these order: the forest lands in the south, the Sudan savanna in the north, and the forest savanna interface. Nigeria was an agrarian country even before the advent of the colonialist where diverse farmers cultivated crops for their subsistence living. The British desire for local raw materials and mineral resources, an outlet for its increasingly unemployed labour force and underutilized capital, and a market for the purchase of foodstuffs and sale of its industrial goods necessitated the reorganization of the socio-economic and political activities of Nigeria (Nnoli, 1976:4). Marketing Boards were thus created after the Second World War to supply raw materials to factories in Britain. Her vast land was coupled with her enormous diversity of ethnic groups totaling 374 ethnic groups. Many of these linguistic groups are small and politically insignificant. Among these ethnic groups, three, which are the Yoruba, the Igbo and the Hausa-Fulani comprise collectively two-thirds of the population (Diamond 1995:419). These three as Uchendu claimed should be called nations rather than tribes (Uchendu 1970:57).
However, two issues under consideration are the bomb blast which occurred on 27 January 2002, and the Yoruba-Hausa ethnic conflict which took place on 2nd and 4th February 2002. The bomb blast was as a result of the accident which took place at the Ikeja Military Cantonment armoury called the Ammunition Transit Deport (ATD) constructed by the British colonial masters. The exploded bombs destroyed many residential buildings including schools leading to internal displacement of many soldiers who were moved from Ikeja Cantonment to the nearby barracks. Civilians in the environs of the Cantonment were equally affected as they ran helter skelter for their lives.
The Yoruba-Hausa ethnic conflict took place at Idi-Araba in the suburb of Lagos as a result of disagreement believed to ensue between Musa, an Hausa man and members of the Oodua Peoples Congress – a pan Yoruba socio-cultural group. The disagreement attracted the attention of the two ethnic groups (Yoruba and Hausa) resulting into ethnic tension in which many lost their lives while hundreds were displaced.
The study is guided by the hypothesis that forced/involuntary migration can be responsible for human displacement without people necessarily crossing international boundary as has been the case in the two incidents discussed in this paper.
Population movements or migrations can take two forms – voluntary migration and involuntary or forced migration. As early as the 1880s, a British scholar, E.G. Ravenstein analyzed population movements within England (Broek and Webb 1973:490). He came up with several laws; but the best known states that the number of migrants decreases as distance increases. In subsequent years, Torsten Hagerstrand and his associates also developed some other models to account for population movements. Several American geographers also engaged in this line of research. Some used gravity models to describe and predict movements between areas in terms of mass population, distance and relations between the two. Of the two types of migrations pointed to above, voluntary migration or what Prothero called regular migration (Prothero 1987: 1282) involves a permanent change in place of residence in which the decision to move has been taken in circumstances offering the migrant relatively free choice.
Our theoretical framework in this paper is the second type of migration that is, forced/involuntary or irregular migration because of the nature of the movement of the people concerned in these two phenomena (the bomb blast and the ethnic conflict). This type of migration involves a change of residence under pressure which may therefore not be wholly permanent but may involve further movement, whose timing and direction are uncertain. Inherent in this is the idea that force (war, conflict, ecological disasters and so on) being an external factor affecting a person acts as a push factor leading him to decide to leave their country and settle elsewhere.
Historical record of population movements is punctuated by human crises such as among the Diaspora of the Jews, the expulsion of the Huguenots from France and the deportation of American Indians from their tribal territories. Internal conflicts in Nigeria have forced thousands of people out of their homes. Over 500,000 Tivs were said to be displaced from Nasarrawa and Taraba states in the Tiv-Jukun clash.
Conflicts in Ife-Modakeke, Zango Kataf, Kafanchan, Tafawa Balewa, Umuleri-Aguleri, Zaki Biam, Idi-Araba and the 27 January 2002 bomb blast in Lagos have produced thousands of internally displaced persons in several parts of the country. However, over the years, observers have suggested that forced displacement and refugees are the result of one or more of the following factors: dissolution of a century of colonial rule; post-independent realignment of political and economic forces; misguided development .policies; bureaucratic ineptitude and corruption and unfavourable climate and weather conditions/ (Schultheis 1989:3)
The incident upon which this research work is based took place late January and early February 2002. Fieldwork was carried out piecemeal. Part of it was done in 2003 and 2004 while the remaining one was done in 2006. The data collection instruments used included personal interviews and distribution of questionnaires. At the Ikeja Cantonment which was the scene of the bomb blast, 29 of the displaced Nigerian soldiers were interviewed and 5 civilians living in the suburb. Questionnaires were equally designed to elicit information. Five barracks were selected for the administration of the questionnaires. These barracks were 4th Mechanised Brigade Benin, 149 Battalion Ojo Military Cantonmnet, 242 Armoured Brigade Badagry, 9 Motorised Brigade IKeja Cantonment and 81 Division Garrison Obalende. In each of the Cantonments, 100 questionnaires were administered bringing to 500 questionnaires administered in the five barracks. The questionnaire designed for the Ikeja bomb blast was made up of structured and unstructured questions. The questions were made up of two parts. The first part asked questions on participant profile (age, gender, number of years, educational qualification and so on). The second part was based on questions relating to the bomb blast. The participants were randomly selected in all the barracks involved. However, of the 500 questionnaires administered, 470 were returned.
The data collection for the second incident took place in February 2002 and since it has to do with Yoruba-Hausa ethnic conflict, questionnaires were administered at Ajegunle, Mushin and Agege. The questionnaire designed for the Yoruba-Hausa ethnic conflict was made up of unstructured questions. Like the first one, questions were asked on participant profile as well as questions bordering on ethnic conflict between the two ethnic groups. In each of these three areas, 200 questionnaires each were administered bringing the total to 600 questionnaires administered. Of the 600 questionnaires administered, 580 were returned. The research work of these two incidents was partly quantitative and partly qualitative.
The three cities where the questionnaires were administered represented different types of urbanism. Ajegunle is a suburb of Lagos near the industrial estate and port of Apapa including the adjacent areas of Olodi and Amukoko. Ajegunle is the headquarters of Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government, a local government with population of 1,435,295 (2006 population census) and Ajegunle is the most densely populated of this local government with a population of about 500,000. Three major tribes of Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo can be found at Ajegunle in the proportions of 40 percent, 35 percent and 25 percent respectively.
Agege is located in Agege Local Government area and serves as the headquarters of Agege Local Government. By the 2006 population census, Agege Local Government has a population of 1,033,064 and as the headquarters of the Local Council, Agege has the largest population of about 400,000. The Hausa in Agege migrated from the north of the country and their proportion stands at 40 percent. Other tribes found in Agege include Awori who are the real indigene of the city but they have been outnumbered by the Hausa. The proportion of the Awori is about 30 percent. The Egba migrated from Abeokuta and are 10 percent while Igbo represent 20 percent Mushin was the third city selected. As a local government headquarters, it is the most densely populated area. Thus while the whole Mushin Local Government is having a population of 1,321,517 (2006 population census), Mushin is having about 500,000. The predominant people there are the Hausa of about 49 percent. The Yoruba is about 30 percent. Ibo represent 10 percent while others represent 11 percent.
Even though, these selected areas are in the south, the long years of migration form the north had allowed the Hausa to be found in large numbers. They live along side with other tribes and it is the predominance of Hausa in these areas that necessitated the selection of these areas. Besides, random sampling of the administration of the questionnaires was ensured.
In this section, we shall define concept such as Internally Displaced Persons, Refugees, Ethnic Group and Ethnic Conflict. On many occasion, perhaps as a result of ignorance, people often refer to internally displaced persons as refugees and vice versa (Crisp 1999:5). For instance, the common practice among the Nigerian newspaper correspondents is to refer to internally displaced persons as refugees. It is however necessary to make a distinction between the two terms. Internally displaced persons are persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particulars, as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violation of human rights or natural or human made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized state border (Wasike 2000:1). Guy Martin defined internally displaced persons as those who have been forced to leave their homes and sources of livelihood but are still within the borders of a country under going violent internal conflict (Martin 1995:248).
As the number of the internally displaced person keeps on growing at an alarming rate, the plight of these people has largely become unaddressed by the international community such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The reason often cited for that is that, the responsibility for such internally displaced persons lies with their home government. However, the international community is becoming increasingly interesting to provide such assistance where respectivehome governments are unwilling or have neglected such responsibility (Nowrojee 1997:1).
We shall now turn to the definition of the second concept, that of ‘a refugee’. The principal definition of refugee has been that incorporated into the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol which removed the geographic limitation that is, of referring to refugees as those resulting from events occurring in Europe alone and the removal of the phrase ‘… events occurring before January 1, 1951. The convention now describes a refugee as:
‘any person who, owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of that country or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence, is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it (Ferris, 1996: 1339).
What we have done in respect of the concepts here is to show the distinction between an internally displaced person and a refugee because often a time, the former is exchanged for the latter. This is also necessary because this paper discusses internally displaced persons and not refugees.
Over the years, the anthropologists and sociologists have concerned themselves with the problem of the definition of ethnic group. Eastman while quoting Abner Cohen said an ethnic group is a collectivity of people who share some pattern of normative behaviour, or culture, and who form a part of a larger population, interacting within the framework of a common social system like the state (Eastman 1975:29). Similarly, Bamgbose while referring to Sanda stated that, ethnic group is consisting of interacting members, who define themselves as belonging to a named or labeled social group with whose interest they identify and which manifests certain aspects of a unique culture while constituting a part of a wider society (Bamgbose 1998:118). Some other authors see ethnic group as a racial or linguistic group. The exact number of ethnic groups in Nigeria is not known. This emanates from the premise that, there is lack of agreement on the criteria used to identify ethnic groups (Wahab 2000:111). This is the reason why some give conflicting figures that range between 250 and 400 ethnic groups. The dimensions of the conflict – the bomb blast and the Yoruba Hausa ethnic conflict.
The dimensions of the conflict-the bomb blast and the Yoruba Hausa ethnic conflict
In the political history of Nigeria, 27 January 2002 was without any shadow of doubt analogous to the period covering 1967-1970, the time of the Nigerian Civil War. Analogousbecause several people met their death untimely, properties destroyed while thousands of people were internally displaced. Paradoxically, since the Nigerian Civil War, internal population displacement has been on the increase (Ibeanu 1998:80). Such has been on the increase as a result of communal clashes, ecological disasters, accidental problem and fire outbreak. If we are to agree with Michael J. Schultheis that the causative agents of such displacement could be war, civil conflict, prolonged economic deprivation, declining standards of living and widespread hunger (Schultheis 1989:3), the bomb blast occurrence of 27 January has no doubt added to the list of factors responsible for displacement.
Some days after the incident, pages of Nigerian newspapers were dotted with frightening headlines many of which read: ‘The Explosions that Exposed All’ (Umoren, 2002:7) ‘600 dead, more blasts in Lagos’ (Ezormon 2002:1), ‘Explosions in Lagos’ (Akparanta 2002:1) ‘Let this be the last sacrifice’, (Tinubu 2002:1), ‘The bomb explosions: A national tragedy’ (Anikulapo 2002:1), ‘Explosion: ATM asks for N1.2bn compensation’ (Adeloye 2002:20). The list was inexhaustible and terrifying. How it happened will be our subsequent subject of concern.
27 January 2002 was a tragic day for the Lagosians and Nigerians in general. It was a day tragedy struck at Ikeja Military Cantonment where the armoury called the Ammunition Transit Deport (ATD) built by the British colonial masters before they departed after independence erupted. As the bombs exploded, the effect was felt in the whole of Lagos and beyond. The pandemonium resulting from the bomb explosion lasted for about four hours. It was a law of survival for the personnel and their families within the barracks. The citizens in Lagos ran for their lives in the intensity of the bombs. During the tragedy, the Lagos skyline around Ikeja and Maryland was overtaken by huge balls of fire and thunderous fumes. Bomb canisters detonated as well as active ones flew out of the cantonment into neighbourhood igniting fresh fires, destroying buildings and other structures. Buildings shook as the earth trembled and structural damages occurred as roofs and ceiling collapsed, air-conditioners unhinged from the walls, window frames and glass doors were shattered. In the ensuing melee, Lagos residents within the vicinity and as far away as Ketu, Mafoluku, Egbeda and Isolo fled in many directions out of fears for their lives.
I shall now turn to the Yoruba-Hausa ethnic conflict. Larry Diamond has pointed out that no problem in the new states of Africa and Asia has more fiercely challenged political order and state cohesion than ethnic conflict (Diamond 1987:117). Osei-Hwedie corroborating this fact commented that such conflict has taken the form of internal wars and coups (Osei-Hwedie 2000:1). Sanda while reviewing the numerous theories on the origin of conflict or cooperation between ethnic groups within autonomous societies pointed out that human groups that ‘speak the same language will share identical sense of group identities and will therefore be more involved in cooperative interactions and less involved in conflict-ridden relations than those groups that speak different languages’ (Sanda 1974:507).
In Nigeria, ethnicity is a creation of the colonial and post-colonial order. Thus in order to consolidate her hegemony on Nigeria, British Government brought the various pre-colonial societies of Nigeria into one political unit. It also went further to reorganize the socioeconomic and political activities. The colonial economy destroyed the traditional economy because it was assumed by the British Government, an opinion similar to other colonial powers that what was good for international capital was good for the colony (Ake 1983:45). It was in the pursuance of this policy that the growth of rubber, cotton, palm produce and cocoa was encouraged.
The inadequacies of the pre-colonial currencies which became glaring by the nineteenth century resulted into the introduction of British currency. Even though, this was resisted as some parts of the colony (Nigeria) were still operating trade by barter, the use of British currency prevailed. The use of currency was followed by the system of uniform taxation which was first regularized in the north and later extended to the south.
The British Government further, brought into existence a Township Ordinance of 1917 for the purposes of creation, control and administration of towns and municipalities. Three categories of townships following, this ordinance was created.
These policies restructured the colony and also integrated it to the British capitalist system. In this wise, many members of the local population migrated to areas of new colonial activity in order to subsist or enjoy a better livelihood (Nnoli, 1976:5). It was in this way that these urban towns attracted the contact of different communal groups thereby creating ethnic tension. However, while such contact situation can give rise to ethnic conflict, the most crucial factor for the emergence of ethnicity in the contact situation is the degree of socio-economic competition involved because these colonial urban centres offered little socio-economic security to those that migrated from the rural areas.
Two things developed from this. The first was insecurity resulting from the search for limited job opportunities and social services. The second, the character of ethnic residential settlements in Nigeria’s colonial urban centres fostered ethnic associations. The net effect of these two conditions was the celeritous growth of ethnic associations. These associations provided members of the ethnic group the much needed social security and welfare services which were not provided by the colonial state. These equipped members of one ethnic group to compete with members of other ethnic groups.
In Nigeria, the critical movement in the history of ethnic relations was reached in 1941 as a result of the conflict which erupted in the Nigerian Youth Movement . In 1943, conflict arose when some Yoruba tried to enter the Kolanut trade in competitition with Hausa. In the same year, when some Awka rural-rural migrant farmers in Nkwelle falsely claimed that the land they were occupying had been purchased from Nkwelle families, the prevailing good relations between the two communities rapidly deteriorated. In Umudioga during the late 1950s, when the migrant tenant farmers who out-numbered the local inhabitants began to demand the right to have a say in the expenditure of local rates they paid, the host community, fearing their domination from political control, became hostile.
Inter ethnic tension has today become pronounced. It has gone beyond those things on which it was waged in the time past. According to Nnoli, four factors accounted for its growth: the persistence of scarcity and inequality, the socio-economic gap among the ethnic groups, their struggle for political power, and their use of the political weapon in their socio-economic competition (Nnoli 1976:15).
The Yoruba-Hausa conflict that ravaged Idi-Araba, Mushin in the suburb of Lagos between 2 and 4 February 2002 six days after the explosions of bombs at the Ikeja Military Cantonment was not far from one of the above factors. Like the bomb blasts, several theories were put forward for its cause (Yoruba-Hausa ethnic conflict). Some on boundary dispute, differences in religion, inter-tribal feud and religious intolerance. However, what seemed to be the authentic account was the one from one Mr. Musa, a popular shoe maker at Paul Oguntola street Idi-Araba. Musa a presumed Hausaman from Niger Republic who has been residing at Idi-Araba for over a decade was caught answering the call of nature at a place called Odo Abata which was a well known place for human defecation. The area prior to Musa answering the call of nature there, had been cleared by members of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) and that members of this cultural organization has stopped people defecating in the area. Thus, while Musa was sighted at the site answering the call of nature, he was accosted by some area boys who asked him to a pack his feaces or pay a fine. Musa gave the area boys five naira which was rejected. Instead, the boys demanded for N200.00. It was the ensuing melee that resulted into fracas. Musa was overpowered and his wrist watch and the sum of N2, 000 were taken from him. Musa went to inform his other Hausamen which resulted into a free for all fight. This eventually pitched the Hausa against the members of the Oodua Peoples Congress – a pan Yoruba socio-cultural group.
These two dreaded and painful incidents that occurred differently that is, the bomb explosions and the ethnic conflict displaced thousands of people while many lost their lives. Thus according to the interview conducted at the barracks, military sources revealed that the armoury at Ikeja military cantonment suddenly caught fire, and the military hardware which comprised bombs and other ammunition began to explode. As the bombs exploded, the effect was felt in the whole of Lagos and beyond. Several reasons were put forward by the cross section of those spoken with. Thus some said that the mayhem must have been caused by the saboteurs who were bent on blackmailing the Obasanjo regime of the Fourth Republic. Other additional reasons included that, a cigarette stud carelessly thrown into the epicenter zone of the ammunition dump might have come in contact with a big branch of a tree or heavy object igniting the fire and that a big stone object accidentally thrown by a child or children playing into the ammunition dump might have impacted sharply on any of the bombs sparking the explosions.
However, when the respondents were asked to express their views about the principal cause of the bomb explosions, some of them responded in the questionnaire that the explosions was caused by inadequate maintenance of barracks while some claimed that this was caused by ineffective monitoring and supervision of the arsenal. The result of the interview however brought out the real cause of the explosion when Brigadier – General George Emdin, Commander of 9 Motorised brigade at Ikeja Cantonment the scene of the bomb blasts declared that the inferno had been caused by an accident at the armoury which had been begging for repairs for some time. This corroborated the view expressed in the questionnaires that the incident was due to inadequate maintenance.
Maintenance has been the general problem facing military barracks in Nigeria. Thus, while the Ikeja Cantonment episode took place in 2002 and with the failure of the federal government to heed the advice given to keep the ammunition dumps in proper shape, such dereliction had caused another bomb blast at Dalet Barrack of the First Mechanized Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna state in 2005 (Akhaine 2005:11) sending the residents of the immediate neighbourhood of Kawo, Angwar Sarki, Hayanbanki, Mando, Kawo new extension, Badarawa, Malali and the heart of Kaduna town running helter-skelter for their lives.
When the people were asked about the incident at Ikeja Cantonment whether the destruction inside the barrack was more than what took place outside the barrack, 78.1% of the respondents agreed that the destruction within the barrack was more than that of outside. This revelation has shown the true position of the whole incident because several residential buildings including schools located within the barrack were affected rendering about 9160 pupils without classrooms (Odiaka 2004:15). 18.6% agreed that the destruction outside was more than inside while 3.3% of the respondents were indifferent. When the respondents were asked whether the victims were taken care of, 33% of them said the victims were taken care of, 18.7% could not say anything about this while 48.3% said the victims were not taken care of. Again, the pattern of responses here showed what should be expected among the soldiers especially those who did not express any opinion on this matter. They feared being punished and those who responded on this risked the outcome as the relief materials from different organizations were channeled through the military officers many of these relief materials disappeared to the unknown destinations.
Similar question that was asked in order to know what then government has been doing to improve the destructed areas showed that majority of the respondents (87.3%) said nothing productive has been done to revive the state of the victims while about 12.7% said renovation has been gradual. This corroborated Nwannekanma,Adesina and Ibemere’s caption ‘Still tears on the canal Residents bemoan neglect by government,seven years after Ikeja bomb blast’ (Nwannekanma, et al 2009;12).
Asking further to know the compensation packages given to those displaced, the respondents stated that they were given items such as blanket, bucket, rice and beverages including about N10,000 each. The respondents in this category were 40% while those who could not say anything about the packages given stood at 60%.
In a confused state of this manner, a situation reminiscent of a war situation, conflicting figures can only be given in terms of the number of casualties. This was due to the fact that the immediate number of dead persons on 27 January 2002 increased later as a result of the deaths that were recorded later from the fragments of the exploded bombs and hundreds of deaths that were recovered from Oke-Afa canal. The deaths in the canal were due to people who get drowned as they were fleeing from the explosion. Majority of those who responded stated that between 1,000 and 3,000 persons were displaced. Also, majority of the respondents (93.37%) agreed that hundreds of quarters including schools and manufacturing companies were destroyed. Some of the affected schools were Estate High School Ilupeju, Lagos; Ikeja Grammar School, Ikeja; Army Children High School; Nine Brigade Primary School; Military Primary School; Army Cantonment Secondary School and Command Secondary School all at Ikeja.
The Yoruba-Hausa ethnic conflict was another case in point in which as in the bomb blasts, several theories were put forward for its occurrence from the respondents perspective. Such as mentioned by them included boundary dispute, differences in religion, inter-tribal feud and religious intolerance. What seemed to be the authentic accounts was the one from one Mr Musa, a popular show maker at Paul Oguntola Street, Idi-Araba. Respondents indicated that people died daily following the renewed clash in the troubled sports. Over 20 houses in Paul Okuntola Street, Taiwo Street, Gbolahan Street and Ishaga close in Idi-Araba were raised down by fire in the clash. Miscreants in both Onipanu and Bariga areas invaded business spots thereby causing traders to close up their shops. The violence led to the closure of the popular Daleko Rice Market for fear of looting. At Idi-Araba, scores of petty traders had their stalls destroyed leading to the closure of public schools. The closure however did not affect the schools with boarding facilities. The Public Relations Officer of the Education Ministry, Alhaji Tunji Bakare said the closure was to safeguard the lives of the pupils. It was this orgy of violence that necessitated the meeting of the Lagos State Governor with thethen Police Commissioner, Mike Okiro and other state security officers. The outcome of the meeting led to the invitation to Idi-Araba, Mushin area of the state of about 300 military personnel.
In Nigeria’s political system, scores of incidents have often been backed up by unfulfilled promises. The Ikeja Cantonment incident has not been far from this. Thus after seven years of the incident, no tangible renovation has been witnessed in the areas affected. Even though, the government and the military authorities invited British bomb disposal experts to join their Nigerian counterparts to search the Cantonment and detonate hidden bombs. This probably due to lack of instruments to be used was not thoroughly done as another bomb explosion was witnessed in 2009 killing Joseph Tim (Adesina 2009:28).
The transit camps belonging to the junior officers which were badly damaged as a result of their proximity to the armoury have not been repaired. Similarly, government impact has not been seen at the Oke-Afa canal where hundreds of people ran into as a result of the explosion. All the appeals made by the Oke Afa residents to build a bridge across the canal were not heeded. The various ad-hoc committees that government has appointed in the time past has failed to either reduce or totally eliminate ethnic crisis in the country. It is therefore not surprising to see the failure of ad-hoc committee set up to amicably settle the Idi-Araba ethnic crisis as numerous ethnic crises had taken place after that between Hausa and Yoruba at Ajegunle. These facts corroborated the position of these respondents as government promises have been deceitful and non-effective.
The Preparedness of the International Community and the home Government
Unlike the refugee plight which for so long has been receiving attention in terms of assistance either at the global or regional level, attention to the plight of the internally displaced persons has been a recent phenomenon. This prolonged neglection stems from the fact that since the people concerned have not crossed international borders, their assistance, it was claimed, should come from their respective home governments. The general pattern in African countries is that, these people are often forgotten because they lack an effective voice. As time went by, this sheer neglect attracted the attention of the international community. The international community has therefore taken a number of steps to raise the level of awareness about the plight of internally displaced persons and to better address their needs. One reflection of its concern was the appointment in 1992 by the United Nations Secretary – General, at the request of the Commission on Human Rights, of a Representative on Internally Displaced Persons (Deng 1998:iii) (Regional Conference on IDPS 2006:32). Aside, there are a number of non-governmental agencies that have been helping the internally displaced persons. Prominent among them are the Red Cross, Red Crescent and the Chesire Homes.
Being touched by the degree of devastation brought about by the 27 January bomb blast, the Nigerian Red Cross Society, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Salvation Army, Lagos State and other humanitarian agencies were moved to donate food and nonfood items to the displaced persons.
Besides, the Federal Government mandated the Nigerian Red Cross society to work in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of works and the Lagos State Government to provide building materials to families who had their homes damaged by the explosion. On the whole, over 10,000 families with building materials such as iron roof sheet, ceiling boards, cement, wood, nails, window glasses, paints, sand, door and window locks, tie rods and so on were provided.
The Lagos State Government equally opened information centres to assist the people about the whereabouts of their lost ones. Displaced persons centres were opened at the Ikeja Military Cantonment (as not every part of the Cantonment was devastated), Mobolaji Bank Anthony way and the premises of the Police College, GRA, Ikeja. Seven direct telephone lines were opened to assist person searching for relocation or in need of information on the crisis. Two of the lines were those of the Governor’s office which were 08027780101, and 01-7750101. Four others were 01-4979844, 4879866, 4979888 and 4879891 while the seventh one was the emergency line 123. The listing of the phone numbers was to show the practical demonstration of Lagos State Government in its readiness to assist the affected persons as these numbers were published for the public usage. The state provided as well free legal assistance for the victims. The essence as Mrs Bisi Akinlade, head of the office of the Public Defender corroborated was to ensure that victims who were too poor to procure the services of lawyers did not lose out in any compensation package approved by the federal government (Madunagu 2002:3).
Still, a Presidential Committee on Lagos Explosion Disaster Relief Fund was inaugurated by President Olusegun Obasanjo on Wednesday, 30th January 2002. The Presidential Committee subsequently established three additional sub-committees which served as the fore-runners in preparing ground for the affected persons. However, as the Presidential Committee needed more helping hands, suggestions and modalities of ameliorating the conditions of the affected people and renovation of the affected areas, it invited a number of Heads of Ministries, Parastals and religious organizations to finalize a programme of action. Those invited included:
1. Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance,
2. Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing,
3. Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communication
4. Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation,
5. Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment
6. Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transport
7. Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Capital Territory
8. Office of the Secretary to the Government of the federation
9. Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Works
10. Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning
11. Office of the Governor, Lagos State,
12. The Chief of Army Staff,
13. The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria,
14. Group Managing Director, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation,
15. Director-General, National Emergency Management Agency,
16. Managing Director, MTN, Nig. Ltd.,
17. Managing Director, ECONET,
18. Managing Director, Guaranty Trust Bank,
19. Director- General, Nigerian Television Authority,
20. Director – General, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria,
21. The President, Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria,
22. The President, Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria,
23. The President, Nigerian Guild of Editors,
24. The President, Nigerian Institute of Architects,
25. The President, Nigerian Society of Engineers,
26. The President, Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyors and valuers,
27. The President, Nigerian Institute of town Planners,
28. Secretary-General, Christian Association of Nigeria,
29. Secretary- General, Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs,
30. The President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria,
31. The President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria,
32. The President, NACCIMA,
33. The President, Civil Liberties Organisation
34. The President of the Red Cross of Nigeria,
35. The President, National Councils of Women’s Societies of Nigeria and
36. The President, Lagos State market Women Association.
(Culled from Sunday Guardian (Lagos) February 24, 2002 p.3)
It was expected that donations should be sent to the Committee on Explosion Disaster Relief Fund, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the federation. In realization of this objective, the then Minister for special duties, Chief Yomi Edu said about 17 trailer load of rice, sugar and blankets would be sent to the victims. In addition, the sum of N10 million was set aside for the victims. The money was released to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and 9 motorised brigade in Ikeja for relief supplies and other emergency needs.
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) also showed a humanitarian concern towards the victims of the explosion by opening two camps for the displaced persons. Mr Batillol Warritay, a UNICEF Chief Information Officer disclosed that a camp was located at Ikeja Military Cantonment while the other camp was located adjacent to the Oke-Afa canal. Relief materials such as bandages, disinfectants, burn solutions, anti-biotics, blankets and other materials were given. The then United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Anan also sent a condolence message to President Olusegun Obasanjo and promised to assist the explosion victims. It was in realization of such assistance that the United Nations Office for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs authorized the disbursement of $30,000 (N3.36 million) to assist the victims. The United States, a Washington DC based organization, the Nigerian Democratic Movement led by Professor Mobolaji Aluko linked up with the Red Cross in the United states to arrange for Nigerians in the United States to send in their donations to the victims. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in collaboration with Nigerian Red Cross produced a special radio jingle on dangers of picking up strange objects which could be unexploded bombs. The jingle specially warned the children to beware not to pick strange objects on the streets or school compounds.
Individuals were as well touched by the monumental tragedy of the explosions and this prompted them to donate towards alleviating the sufferings of the victims. A total sum of three hundred and eighty six million four hundred and thirty nine thousand one hundred and eighty naira was donated. Some of those who donated money also gave relief materials such as bags of rice, shoes and blankets. The assistance rendered might look gigantic. This only represented 33 percent going by the confession of the respondents.
Barely a week after the bomb explosion, Lagos was touched again by the ethnic clash between Yoruba and Hausa at Idi-Araba. To this end, the Nigerian Army swiftly responded to the plight of the displaced persons. Those displaced who were initially taking refuge at Abati Army Barrack in Lagos were evacuated to Ikeja Police College. Similarly, about 116 displaced persons who took refuge at Manda Army Barrack at Yaba were also evacuated to Ikeja Police College. The International Committee of the Red Cross Emergency Team provided cooked food and also assisted in the distribution of food and other items to the victims. Involved in assisting the displaced persons were the various embassies in Nigeria such as the Spanish, French and the United State embassies.
The dreadful and painful incidents that occurred separately that is, the accidental bomb blast at Ikeja Cantonment, and ethnic conflict between the Yoruba and Hausa at Idi-Araba, Mushin in the surburb of Lagos which took place on 27 January, and between 2 and 4 February 2002 had come and gone. The fact remains that there is a need to forestall such happenings in the future. It is on this ground that we recommend the following, first, about the bomb explosion.
1. That such high caliber weapons should not be stored in such a highly densely populated area. In as much as we know that military cannot do without such weapons, they should not be kept in a highly densely populated area where an accident of this type will not cost the nation many lives. Even when the growth of city reaches the barrack location as has been the case with many barracks in Nigeria, such barrack should be relocated.
2. The government should at all time provide adequate security to prevent sudden tampering with the weapons which may result into sudden explosion. It is the responsibility of the government to constantly guard such an area against any intruder who knowingly or unknowingly wanting to tamper with such an area.
3. The government should cultivate good maintenance culture and store explosive materials in air-conditioned places in order to prevent excessive heat that may result in explosion. There is a need for government to ensure this. It is the inability to Nigerian government to ensure this that has resulted into another bomb explosion at Dalet Barrack, Kawo quarters, Kaduna, Kaduna state. Further bomb explosion could occur in many of the nation’s barracks except good maintenance culture and storage facilities are provided to forestall such tragedy.
4. Government should embark on country wide upgrading of ammunition dumps. Outdated weapons in these dumps should be destroyed through the use of experts and new weapons procured and maintained.
However, for the ethnic conflict, we recommend as follows:
1. Since Nigeria is a multiethnic nation comprising about 400 ethnic groups, the government must emphasise the need for tolerance among the different ethnic groups. Such can be done by setting aside a fairly recognizable percentage of non-indigene that can work in any form of employment, enter into party politics and other social activities in any state of the federation without been discriminated against. This will go a long way to give every citizen of Nigeria a sense of belonging.
2. Inter-marriage among persons from different places of origin, or different religious, ethnic or linguistic associations or ties and formation of associations that cut across ethnic, linguistic, religious or other sectional barriers be encouraged. Inter-marriages will foster unity among different linguistic and religious groups. Similarly, associations that cut across diverse ethnic and religious groups will go a long way to bring unity to the country.
3. A revolutionary development programme of the entire country should be embarked upon to satisfy the demands of every citizen. Such development programme should be seen in areas such as portable drinking water free education, free health services, employment, housing and care of old people. Fulfilling all these will not allow any sectional or ethnic group in any state or group of states to accuse other states of being more developed than their states.
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First Regional Conference on Internal Displacement on West Africa hosted by the Federal Government of Nigeria at Abuja between 26-28 April 2006.
- Transgression of Human Rights in Humanitarian Emergencies: The Case of Somali Refugees in Kenya and Zimbabwean Asylum-Seekers in South Africa
- Mapping Population Mobility in a Remote Context: Health Service Planning in the Whantoa District, Western Ethiopia
- One step forward, two steps back? Humanitarian Challenges and Dilemmas in Crisis Settings