No fewer than ten persons have been confirmed dead in a fresh communal clash that ensued between the bordering communities of Agila in Ado local government area of Benue State and Ngwo in Ebonyi State.
The rivalry between the two neighbouring communities broke out on the wee hours of Tuesday over perennial land dispute between them which has gone beyond controversy.
Ngwo community over the week allegedly deployed mercenaries into Agila threatening to march into Agila main town.
According to an eye-witness at the Benue end of the border, who spoke with Dailypost, the renewed fighting has forced inhabitants of Ai-Nedu clan in Agila to flee to Apa Agila for safety.
According to him, farmers of Ai-Nedu community had gone to carry out their routine farming activities yesterday morning when they ran into an ambush of over 100 men who marched through Ogilolo community dressed in military camouflage and armed with sophisticated weapons.
“The farmers flee on sighting the men but the mercenaries caught up with one Oche Adayi, a father of four and beheaded him. From that point, they moved in further, shooting sporadically and killing any living thing within the area; as at now we cannot ascertain the number of the dead because many people are still missing while some are believed to be trapped in the farms.
“As at 30 minutes ago we were hearing sounds of gun shots coming from the besieged community near the Community Secondary School in Agila while people are still scampering for safety,” he said.
Reacting to the incident, Benard Ochepa, the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Ado local government area, lamented the extent of the attack on his people.
“The attack was just overwhelming; it is sad that despite efforts by the state government to ensure that this crisis was brought to an end, the people we gave land to habit have now resorted to killing my people, it is sad indeed.
“In fact the situation is even more painful when you realised that our people have been displaced from their places of abode and their communities made desolate,” Mr Ochepa said.
The development on Tuesday prompted a forced cancellation of all official engagements organised by the Benue State Government.
Meanwhile, the Benue State Security Council, chaired by the Deputy Governor, Steven Lawani, had conveyed an emergency meeting to deliberate the matter.
The Deputy Police Public Relations Officer for Benue State, Ejike Alaribe ASP, disclosed that the police recorded one death in the fighting, adding that the state Police Commissioner, Christopher Katso, personally directed the Area Commander in charge of Otukpo to move to the troubled community to ensure that peace was restored in the communities immediately.
He added that Benue State Police Command was also collaborating with its counterpart in Ebonyi state to ensure that calm returned to the areas.
“We have drafted more men to the area, and I can assure you that calm has returned to the area”, Mr Alaribe said.