Worshippers at Saint Lucy Catholic Church, Awajir, Konshisha Local Government Area of Benue State, yesterday reportedly deserted their church for fear of being attacked and killed by troops of Operation Whirl-Stroke (OPWS), who are currently combing communities in the area to recover bodies of their missing colleagues and ammunition.
New Telegraph gathered that the troops had been deployed in the area following the recent alleged murder of 11 soldiers, including an Army Captain by youths as well as douse the age-long communal strife between Tiv people of Konshisha and their neighbouring Igede people of Oju in Oju Local Government Area of the state.
Many houses including the palace of the paramount ruler in Konshisha, Chief Unaha Koko and several others were reduced to rubbles with lives also reportedly lost.
At the weekend, a group known as Tiv Professionals Group (TPG), accused the OPWS forces of commandeering the church for use as its operational base to launch attacks on Konshisha people. Leader of the TPG, Prof. Zacharys Gundu, who briefed newsmen in Makurdi, said there was no basis for the soldiers to ‘desecrate’ the church.
Gundu also asked the Federal Government to immediately constitute a judicial commission of inquiry into the communal discord.
But a worshipper from the church, who spoke with New Telegraph on telephone said; “Because of fear of attack we did not attend today’s service because the soldiers are using our church as a point to operate.
“I wish to however thank Governor Samuel Ortom for his efforts at bringing lasting peace to our land. I also want to use this opportunity to appeal to both NEMA and SEMA authorities to send relief materials to our people whose homes were destroyed by the soldiers, for we are now homeless.”