13 killed in Benue traditional stool tussle
No fewer than 13 persons were in the early hours of yesterday killed by suspected militias over a chieftaincy tussle at Ukpogo-Edikwu community in Apa council area of Benue State.
The Guardian learnt that the attackers stormed the settlement at about 4:30a.m., injuring others and razing homes besides the fatalities.
It was further gathered that the dispute over the stool of Alegwu of Edikwu, which dates back to 1994, has attracted persistent killings by armed gangs allegedly hired by an aggrieved contender (name withheld) said to be on self-exile since the crisis erupted.
He was reported to have disagreed with the choice of the kingmakers, who elected the late Chief Imoni Otokpa as Alegwu of Edikwu before his death in 2018.
But the latest onslaught comes three months after Deputy Governor Benson Abounu, representing Governor Samuel Ortom, presided over a stakeholders’ meeting in May where it was agreed that the feuding parties should embrace peace.
Addressing newsmen on the incident, the acting Alegwu of Edikwu, Chief Otokpa David Imoni, said the hurt contestant had declared war on his people with the support of some local politicians, deploying hoodlums to force his way to the traditional ruler’s seat even after taking the matter to court.
His words: “The attack today (yesterday) took place this morning when hooded gun-wielding militia men entered Ukpogo community at about 4:30a.m. and began to shoot anything that showed sign of life.
“Thirteen dead bodies were already found after their departure around 6:00a.m.”
Also confirming the development, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, DSP Catherine Anene, stated that 13 corpses had been recovered.
She added that officers had been drafted in the area to restore normalcy, while investigation was ongoing to uncover the perpetrators of the heinous act.
The joint military operation in Benue, code named Operation Whirl Stroke, had also mobilised to forestall further attacks in the locality.
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