Fresh Violence Claims 11 Lives in Benue, Taraba

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George Okoh in Makurdi and Wole Ayodele in Jalingo

A total of 11 people have been confirmed dead in fresh violence that erupted in Benue and Taraba States yesterday.

Eight people were killed and several others injured yesterday in Takum in Taraba State as irate youths went on rampage to avenge the killing of a man in his farm on Takum-Wukari road.

In Benue State, no fewer than three persons were also yesterday reportedly killed in a renewed hostility between two communities of Okpoga and Edumoga districts in Okpokwu Local Government Area of the state.

However, confirming the incident, the Taraba State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP David Misal, said only two persons were killed in the incident.

Misal, who maintained that the situation has been brought under control, said: “One person was killed in the farm which is under dispute this (yesterday) morning and some youths in Takum revenged and killed someone allegedly a relation to the people who are in dispute over the said land.

“The land matter has been in court, and two months ago, a relation of the person killed on the same land today (yesterday) was killed in the same farm. However, we have since brought the situation under control.”

Efforts to make the Caretaker Chairman of the local government area, Mr. Shiban Tikari, speak on the matter proved abortive as he failed to call back as he earlier promised when he spoke to journalists on the phone.

Meanwhile, no fewer than three persons were yesterday reportedly killed in a renewed hostility between two communities of Okpoga and Edumoga districts in Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State.

THISDAY gathered from the locals that Ollo community in Edumoga district and parts of Okpoga district in Okpokwu LGA have engaged themselves in war for a decade, a situation which has claimed several lives.

A local source, who spoke with our correspondent, said the cause of the age-long crisis, including the recent one that has resulted in the alleged killing and looting of properties, is yet to be established.

However, another source equally told THISDAY that what triggered the crisis this time around was that some people from Okpoga district allegedly attacked Ollo community in Edumoga district but were overpowered by the Ollo people which led to the death of the three members of the Okpoga community.

Contrary to the above claim, another source, who identified himself as Mr. Igoche Adoba, a resident of Okpoga, explained that the Ollo people invaded Okpoga community last Monday night, killing three persons.

“It was a reprisal that led to the death of these people. Some people from Ollo community had gone to launch an unexpected attack on Okpoga community and killed some of their people and looted their properties worth millions of naira while several others were displaced,” he said.

Confirming the incident, care taker Chairperson of Okpokwu local government council, Mrs. Amina Audu, stated that one person was killed during the crisis while only one person has so far been arrested.

According to the chairman, the crisis between the two communities has been a long-standing one, stressing that the renewed fight started when some hoodlums went and attacked Olayega clan in Edumoga district and looted the people’s properties, including a poultry farm, and vandalised an electricity transformer belonging to JED in the area.

She lamented that since she assumed office, it has been crisis upon crisis, noting that she has had series of meetings with police, local vigilantes, chiefs, DSS and other stakeholders to broker peace between the warring communities and find lasting solutions to the crisis.

“The crisis between Edumoga district and Okpoga district is an age-long dispute which cause is not yet known. I have reported this recent mayhem to the appropriate authorities, including police in Ugbokolo and the area command at Otukpa, and one person has so far been arrested.

“I want to express my gratitude to the state Governor, Samuel Ortom, for taking proactive steps to ensure that security personnel are drafted to the crisis areas to forestall further attacks,” Amina said.

When contacted, the Benue State Command Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Sewuese Anene, said she was yet to be briefed about the renewed hostility.