*Scores flee, many houses burnt
Cephas Iorhemen, Makurdi
Gunmen, armed with sophisticated weapons, Monday morning invaded Edikwu community in Ugbokpo in Apa Local Government Area of Benue State and killed at least 13 people.
The deceased persons were reportedly killed as a result of a disputed chieftaincy stool.
New Telegraph learnt on good authority that the attackers, who made incursion into the community at about 4:30am, also left scores of other victims homeless as houses were also razed with many others injured.
Sources from the area told New Telegraph that the dispute over the stool of Alegwu of Edikwu, which was traced back to 1994, had led to persistent killings in the community by armed militia gangs allegedly hired by an aggrieved contender to the stool who had been on self exile since the wake of the crisis.
The aggrieved contender, it was learnt was said to have disagreed with the choice of the kingmakers of the community who elected late Chief Imoni Otokpa as Alegwu of Edikwu before his demise in 2018.
The latest attack on the community came just three months after the state’s Deputy Governor, Mr. Benson Abounu on behalf of Governor Samuel Ortom presided over a peace meeting of stakeholders of the community last May where it was agreed that feuding parties should sheath their swords and embrace peace.
The Acting Chief of Alegwu of Edikwu, Chief Otokpa David Imoni, who confirmed the attack, said the aggrieved contender had declared war on his people with the active support of some local politicians and had overtime sent armed militia to attack his people to compel them to accept him as the traditional ruler even after taking the matter to court.
“The present one took place this morning when armed gunmen invaded Ukpogo community at about 4:30am and began to shoot anything that showed signs of life.
“13 dead bodies were found after their departure around 6:00am,” he explained.
It was gathered that the joint military operation in the state, code named Operation Whirl Stroke, had mobilized and taken over the immediate area to forestall further attacks.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent, DSP Catherine Anene confirmed the attack and 13 deaths.