November 25, 1999

 

MILE 12 CLASH

 

 

On this day, scores of people were killed when the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) clashed with traders in Ketu/Mile12 market in Lagos. Although the exact number of victims was not confirmed, but it was estimated to be more than one hundred. A senior police officer who was at the scene said he saw an estimated two hundred bodies, but that some others had already been buried in mass graves.

The fighting was thought to have been caused by jealousy on the part of Yoruba about the perceived dominance of the market by Hausa traders. There had also been disputes between particular individuals for control of key leadership positions within the market traders’ committee.

OBA KOSOKO

 

 

According to some of the traders, some Yoruba had been threatening to challenge that dominance and claim back the market form the Hausa. Consequently, many of the victims of the OPC attack were Hausa, or people of northern origin suspected to be Hausa. However, a number of Igbo and members of other ethnic groups were also attacked by the OPC. Some Hausa also attacked and killed Yoruba. Both groups were well armed. Most of the violence took place in the market and on the roads surrounding it. Witnesses reported that there were also house to house searches in which the Odua People’s Congress (OPC) targeted the Hausa and Igbo.

More photos of Mile 12 Clash

 

 

Market traders who witnessed the violence confirmed that large numbers of OPC members were involved, and that many of those who carried out the attacks wore vests with “OPC” written on them. They carried a range of weapons, including guns, machetes and daggers; some even wore charms. Some traders believed that many more OPC members must have been drafted to the “war zone” form other areas.

A woman who had been trading in the market for five years before the fight broke out, said she had never witnessed anything like that before. “People were shouting “OPC! OPC!” We started hearing gunshots. I had to find my way out of the market. The expressway (the main road which runs along the market) was blocked by the OPC. The road was turned into a killing zone…….. Many traders lost their lives and even some customers that were unfortunate to come to the market at that time.”

TOMATOE MARKET MILE 12, LAGOS

 

A Hausa trader described how the OPC were specifically targeting the Hausa and Igbo in and around the market. Some northerners who were not even Hausa were among those attacked: “On 25 November, a young man, Mohammed, was knifed in the belly. He was rushed to the hospital and was lucky to survive. They (OPC) beat a lot of our members who started chasing them out. We went to the main road, the road was blocked. They were stopping all vehicles. They would off load any Hausa of Igbo, kill them and set them on fire. I saw them stopping vehicles. They were very big group, may be thousands. Some had OPC uniforms. Other Yoruba also joined in. They were asking people who were passing: “What is your state (of origin)? What is your tribe?” They stopped a northerner who sells provisions, he is not an Hausa; he is from Zabruma tribe, from Kebbi state. His name is Bako; he is about 30 or 35 years old. They asked him which state he was from. He said Kebbi. They said: “Kill him. He is an Hausa man. He’s from their state.”

War Ship

 

They cut him in several places. He managed to run away as the OPC heard the police siren and fled. I saw him face to face. He looked like he could have been attacked with knives or bottles; they used bottles a lot. He swore he would never return to Lagos.”

 

 

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