Murder, Destruction In Benue Communities

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Two brothers and their supporters in Ogobia and Ondo communities of Benue State ran amok for yet undetermined reason, shooting, killing and destroying in the communities. HEMBADOON ORSAR, who visited the scenes of the mayhem writes.

There was bloodbath in Ogobia and Ondo communities in Benue State as two brothers: Ijachi Udeh and Ejeh Udeh who are low-level politicians along with their followers, launched an attack on the people of the two communities killing four, and leaving dozens with varying degrees of injuries.

Our correspondent who visited the area gathered that those killed included Ebute Ugbo, a retired Major of the Nigerian Army, who was a former state chairman of PDP.

Our correspondent gathered that the crisis was ignited by the two brothers: Ijachi Udeh and Ejeh Udeh following party differences their different political party leanings.

Ijachi is said to be a member of the All Progressives Party (APC), while his brother, Ejeh belongs to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Investigation revealed that the crises started when Ijachi came into Ogobia town on the night of Wednesday, September 13, 2017 with his supporters in a Hilux van who were allegedly shooting sporadically everywhere and in the process shot and killed three persons, including a retired police officer Christopher Ujah who is said to be an ardent supporter of his brother, Ejeh in the process.

In a reprisal attack, Ejeh’ supporters were said to have mobilized and stormed Ogobia town  the next day which was Thursday, September 14, 2016 and  killed  three people including retired Major Ebute Ugbo whom it was said  was slaughtered, dumped into his car and set ablaze.

Benue State governor Samuel Ortom alongside his deputy Benson Abounu and the Otukpo local government chairman who were in Ogobia to assess the extent of the mayhem and as well  witness the burial of Major Ugbo expressed shocked over the incidence and condemned the attack on innocent citizens.

The governor who could not control the flow of tears by Ugbo’s widow, children and sympathizers in the area said  the two brothers who were said to be involved in the killings and destruction will pay dearly for the act.

“This is wickedness. You can imagine  how two brothers would wake up and begin to shoot, kill and wound innocent people including children like animals. I don’t think I can accept this to happen under my watch.  As the chief security of the state, I cannot sit and watch these two brothers destroy the state.

“I have directed the security agencies to arrest them.  I understand one of them has already been arrested, the other one too is going to be arrested, there is no hiding place for them.

“Look at the  number of people they have killed and wounded,  the kind of destruction they have caused to the community. This building directly opposite Major Ugbo’s house I understand is a vocational training center for youths,  and it has been completely razed. So where is the future of the youths here now,  when men and women of good will are interested in adding value to the development of the state by bringing this kind of initiative to engage the minds of the youths other youths are coming to destroy it, they will pay dearly for this,” Ortom said.

The governor described  Major Ugbo as a non-violent man who fought gallantly  for the unity of the country, and retired as a major only for him to be killed in his own home.

“Even though the people that have died have gone and we will never bring them back, I’m appealing to the people of Ondo and Ogobia especially the youths, let there be no reprisal attack, leave everything to the government and security agencies to handle. Two wrongs cannot make a right. How can youths take over management of land and begin to kill and wound people including children? It is government that owns the land. Look  at the quantum of destruction they have caused here.

“I know major Ugbo whom they killed as a very calm man. He is not a violent person.   I worked closely with him between 2003 and 2006 when he was the state chairman of PDP and I served under him as his secretary only for these hoodlums to come and murder him like this, and burn him to ashes.  This is unacceptable  under my watch,” Ortom emphasized.

The governor appealed to leaders and members of the community to cooperate with security agencies by giving useful information that would led to the arrest of criminals in the area.

“I am appealing to all the people of the community as well as the community leaders not to shield any act of  criminality but to report any suspicious movement to security agencies for onward arrest and prosecution. I assure you of additional security here so that the people can return back to their homes. I will also ensure that the security agencies arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of this heinous acts to serve as deterrent to others who would want to bring discomfort in this community again,” the governor said.

Council chairman of Otukpo local government area, George Ali in an debunked the belief that the killing of the Major Ugbo and others in Ogobia and Ondo was politically motivated.

“The attack on the people of Ogobia and Ondo is not political, it is purely about who owns land because the Ondo  and Ogobia people are brothers and they said for every land sold in Ogobia,  they  must get their royalties because Ogobia is more urbanized compared to Ondo and the people in Ogobia did not agree to this,” Ali said.

Our  correspondent, however, reliably  gathered  in the two communities  that  the crises was politically motivated following a tussle between the two brothers who belong to two different political parties   Some of the residents equally blamed security operatives for not living up to expectation as the residents were left at the mercy of the hoodlums.

If not for politics, how can  two brothers just wake up and turn a whole community into mourning over land issue when there are elders and traditional rulers  in the land some query. Is the land in Ogobia and Ondo controlled by the two brothers? Some ask.

The question of many in ogobia and Ondo is,  if the crises between the two communities was not political,  what  is the involvement of Major Ugbo and others killed in  the attack in land issue?

Confirming the incident, the police public relations officer (PPRO), ASP Moses Yamu who said four persons were killed in the mayhem, revealed that one of the masterminds of the crisis, Ejeh had been arrested while Ijachi was still at large.

A visit by our correspondent to Ogobia and Ondo communities revealed that the residents have fled for fear of further attacks since only one person out of the two masterminds of the attacked has been arrested. Some few person who were seen at the burial of the slain Major Ugbo refused to comment on the issue for fear of the unknown.

Our correspondent reports that some of the survival victims of the attack, including women and children are receiving treatment at St Daniels Hospital Otukpo. The victims could not speak to our correspondent because according to hospital management, they are in too much pain to talk and crying for their dead relatives.

Mrs Christiana Uja whose husband was shot dead and her eight-year-old son shot on the lap, said in tears that the hoodlums came around 4:30am.

“I didn’t really know my husband zas killed, look at my son lying there, he was also  shot.  I am confused. Other victims including Inalegwu Joseph, Adakole Pius and the son of Uja who was killed in the attack are all responding to treatment.