Obi/Otukpo crisis: 3 killed, 6 houses burnt in Benue
From Scholastica Onyeka, Makurdi
Not fewer than three persons have been killed and several houses burnt in Obi and Otukpo local government areas of Benue state, following the lingering crisis over electricity supply in the area.
Special Adviser to Governor Samuel Ortom on Security Matters, Lt. Col. Paul Hemba, who spoke with newsmen in his office, on Friday, condemned the killings and wanton destruction of properties in the area saying it was avoidable.
Hemba who disclosed that three persons were killed and six houses destroyed during the incident, said “From my record, we have three deaths but unconfirmed reports are projecting the figure to be higher and six houses were burnt during the incident.”
He regretted that the two local government areas who have always lived harmoniously could engage themselves in such act to the point of killing one another.
“It is a simple matter that should not have resulted into canon. The Igede people of Obi and Oju and the Otukpo people are not just neighbours but also brothers. There has been a lot of inter marriages, both LGAs inter marry and share affiliations. So for a problem of electricity to result into a big problem like this is unfortunate.”
He explained that “The incident happened during the election and because the police were deployed for purpose of election, they lacked adequate manpower to deal with the issue. So 401 army brigade stepped in and restored calm but there was tension and apprehension amongst the people even after the incident and it has been brought under control.
“From my interaction with the electricity distributors, the transformer they have is enough to supply adequate power to both communities but they lacked wisdom and patience to invite and allow the distribution company to handle it.
“I had a dialogue with stakeholders from both sides including traditional rulers, local government chairmen and religious leaders, they regretted the action of their youths and agreed to talk to them to ensure that the ugly trend does not occur again.”
He said mobile policemen have been deployed to the area to ensure that residents and motorists are not molested and to end the wanton destruction going on there.
Hemba also promised government’s continued commitment to provide security along the road to prevent criminals from harassing innocent people in the area.
He also regretted that herdsmen attacks have persisted in the state a situation he said has overstretched the security men who were out on election duties in the last one month.
He acknowledged that there has been tensions and apprehension among the people following rumours of killings among others saying state government is doing its best with the security agencies to bring sanity to the troubled areas.