9 Dead at Ebonyi/Benue Boundary Area…4 Missing… State Govt Angry with Stakeholders
By Oginyi Ruth
Few days after 2 persons were killed by gunmen in the disputed boundary between Ebonyi and Benue State; another 9 persons have been slaughtered by unidentified gunmen in the same Ukwagba Ngbo, the boundary community with Benue State in Ohaukwu LGA of Ebonyi State and 4 other persons missing.
The death of the persons may not be unconnected with the protracted boundary war between Ukwuagba Ngbo community in Ebonyi and Agila community in Benue State.
The Governor of the state, Engr. David Umahi on Sunday, however, threatened to arrest and imprison stakeholders of the area for allegedly sponsoring the killings.
Umahi spoke on Sunday when he visited the council headquarters of Ohaukwu LGA located at 135 Ezzangbo and gave the stakeholders of the area 24 hours to produce the killers of the 9 persons and the missing four persons.
Represented by the Deputy Governor, Barr. Kelechi Igwe, Governor Umahi said it is a shame on the stakeholders of the area including the 6 former chairmen of the council to allow killings to ravage the local government.
The boundary war between Ebonyi and Benue people has lasted for years with many lives and properties lost.
Just this year, about 30 lives have been lost, including a police officer serving with Ebonyi State Command and the fresh 9 persons.
Barr Kelechi who was visibly angry said, “I am very embittered in my spirit. The first civilian Governor from this state and the grandfather of Ebonyi State is from this Local Government Area. And right inside here, I can see about seven past local Government area chairmen.
“It is a shame on all of you. We did not come to paint pictures or clap for you. Do not deceive Government. Every day, Agila people have come. It is pure falsehood, you know what is happening to yourselves, you are killing yourselves.”
“You should know people who are causing trouble in your domain. The traditional rulers should be able to fish out people who are causing trouble. We have not come with the message of comfort but to sound a note of warning.”
“We are tired of hearing sentimental stories of what is happening in Ohaukwu. What we want is action. Some people wrote an undertaking to the government. Most of you are here and for those who are not part of it, we will make you part of it.
Because they had agreed that if anything as tragic as this happens in Ohaukwu again we should hold them responsible.”
“All these people that signed that undertaking must produce those people that were killed and those that waylaid them in Effium. You can set up a vigilante to do that. Enough is enough. We must stop playing games”, Umahi warned.
Briefing the deputy on the true situation of security in the area, the chairman of Ohaukwu LGA, Barr. Clement Odah blamed the killings on some persons who are not happy with his administration.
“Yesterday, we were heading towards Ukwagba community in Ngbo that casualties numbering 9 persons and 10 from the latest information were killed, massacred in their homes.”
“There is a situation we are trying to manage, that some persons who are Ezza brothers were going for burial at Effuim from Enugu State.
They were 30 persons in number, on getting to a guest house in Ishielu LGA, one of them were involved in an accident, and they took him to Ezzamgbo General Hospital.”
“While they were there, 4 persons left them and moved ahead of the 30 to attend the burial leaving the other 26 behind but on getting to Agbaesa, they were intercepted by some boys who blocked the roads.
When the other 26 reached the venue of the burial, they couldn’t find the other 4 persons who left them at the hospital” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Ebonyi State Police Command has confirmed the death of 8 persons in Ukwagba, Ngbo, Ohaukwu Local Government Area by suspected gunmen from Agila, in Benue State.
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Loveth Odah said 4 of the people were killed and their heads were chopped off.
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- She said, “The state Commissioner of Police, Awosola Awotunde, top police officers and the Chairman of Ohaukwu LGA, rushed to the scene on receiving information of the incident.”
“We were informed by the people that the attackers came from neighboring Agila community of Benue as they also burnt six houses and killed 20 goats.”
According to her, the beheaded victims are James Aleke, 55, Innocent Agbo, 65, Chukwu Enwe, 46 and Livinus Idoko, 70.
“The victims whose bodies were still intact are Ngozi Idenyi, 32, Jonathan Onwe, 10, Ify Aleke, 51, and Susanna Ogba, 54, while Okeh Nwankwo, 53 is currently hospitalized.”
“The CP urged the people to remain calm and avoid undertaking reprisal attacks as the command will ensure that peace is restored in the area,” she said. Odah urged the Federal Government to intervene in the matter, saying the situation is getting worse on a daily basis.
She challenged both Ebonyi and Benue State governments to expedite efforts to permanently tackle the war and save the lives of their citizens.
“The attack was last witnessed on August 27 when two persons were killed in the community”, Odah said.