The Event of February 5, 2002

On this day, about one hundred heavily armed soldiers arrived in Lagos to restore nomalcy at Idi-Araba, Mushin area of the state after a four-day of ethnic violence which had left about 100 people dead and several others injured.

The Nigerian Red Cross confirmed that 100 people died in the riots, many of whom had been hacked to death or left burning by the road side, with a further 430 residents wounded.

When the soldiers arrived the area, a senior military officer was seen trying to persuade residents to return home. Soldiers ordered residents of the northern suburbs of Mushin and Idi Araba – where fighting between Yoruba and Hausa tribal militants began four days earlier – to walk through the battle-torn streets with their hands above their heads as a precaution. Some people were ordered to lie on the ground while soldiers search them for weapons.

Soldiers kicked down the doors to people’s homes and suspects were interrogated kneeling on the ground at gun point. According to witnesses, anyone trying to escape were shot dead.

The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mike Okiro, said that, ‘Ten miscreants are being held and they will appear in court’.

In spite of the presence of the armed soldiers, some residents were still seen nervously venturing back to collect whatever belongings were left in their looted, burnt homes. Hundreds of people, mostly Hausa women, children and elderly men – had sought refuge at the Abalti Army Barracks, at Ojuelegba area of the state, and Ikeja Police college, farther away.

The governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu appeared on national television alongside governors of several northern states to appeal to fighters in their respective languages to lay down their weapons. ‘We are one nation, one people, under one God,’ Governor Bola Tinubu said.

The violence started when the Hausas living in the Idi-Araba area of Lagos claimed that a young Yoruba man desecrated a mosque in the area. The Hausa people reportedly turned on him and beat him to death.  The Yoruba saw that and retaliated.



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