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4 killed, houses razed in Benue communal clash 

At least four people have been reportedly killed in a communal clash between communities in Ohimini and Otukpo Local Government Areas of Benue State. Residents…

At least four people have been reportedly killed in a communal clash between communities in Ohimini and Otukpo Local Government Areas of Benue State.

Residents said the clash which happened between Amla community in Otukpo LGA and Okete community in Ohimini LGA at the weekend also led to the burning of several houses and destruction of many motorcycles by the warring factions.

Trouble was said to have started on Friday when some people from the side of Ohimini opened fire on those from Otukpo in an attempt to stop workers from developing a layout which they had farmed.

Council Chairman of Otukpo LGA, Alfred Omakwu, told our correspondent via telephone that the communal clash between Amla in Otukpo and Okete in Ohimini LGA led to the total lost of three lives.

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He said, “What happened was that the Okete people lost it; they used to go and farm in Amla land but sometimes last year when they (Otukpo LGA) approved the layout to go and develop the place, the Okete people went to report to the Och’Idoma that their farm produce were there so the Och’Idoma told told them that the layout should not be done until they harvested their products.

“So, February this year, they harvested their produce and the Och’Idoma called them and informed them that by March this year, Otukpo would go ahead with their layout and that they should not farm there again.

“So when the bulldozer returned they (Okete) said they had farmed already and reported to their second class chief as well as their LG chairman who called me and I told them that the Och’Idoma asked them not to farm there again because they were going to do layouts.

“So when the bulldozer came there on Friday, they came to their lawyer who called me and I told him that the Och’Idoma asked them to farm their again but if they want to go to court, it’s their right. But they insisted to stop the bulldozer from working and their lawyer said that they should wait for him to get an injunction from the court, they however said they can’t wait,” Omakwu narrated.

He added that they went on to the First class chief of Otukpo/Ohimini who called Och’Idoma and the Och’Idoma said they should not stop the people doing the layout because he asked them not to farm their again, noting they then went ahead and opened fire on the people at the site.

The chairman further narrated that, “they killed one and shot two people and then burnt all their bikes about 10 of them. Then the Otukpo retaliated the next day; they burnt some houses and killed two people.

“But we have maintained the calm; the commissioner summoned all of us for a peace meeting so we are restoring peace now among both parties. We have agreed that all the culprits will be brought to book and those who went to start the attack and those who did the reprisal because we asked them not to attack. They should be handed over to the police to serve as a deterrence.”

On his part, the Council Chairman of Ohimini, Samson Okoh, alleged that the Alma people burnt 17 houses, burnt motorcycles, slaughtered a clan head, Chief Sunday Okpe, and injured five persons whom were shot but didn’t die.

On whether the Och’Idoma asked his people not to farm there again, he replied, “I’m not aware of that but the Otukpo Chairman claim so but I was not told by the Och’Idoma to tell my people not to farm there.

“The Och’Idoma cannot tell people to stop farming where they have been doing so for donkey years without compensation without settlement and you just take the bulldozer and bulldoze people’s crops on hectares of land.”

Meanwhile, an elder, Dan Eka, stated that beyond the narration by both chairmen, the crux of the matter lies in the quarrel over Chieftancy and the ownership of Amla-Icho between the people of Otada and Otukpo Nobi both of Otukpo LGA which are laying claim to the village at the border line between Otukpo and Ohimini LGAs.

Eka said, “This has lingered for about three to four years. But the latest quarrel came over Clan Headship. They wanted to take a village Head for Amla-Icho. So somebody whose linage came from Otukpo Nobi and another from Otada started contesting. The man from Otukpo Nobi it was alleged that it is his mother that was from there and his father is from Okpiko in Ohimini LGA. But because Amla-Icho is a settlement where people came from everywhere to live everyone could contest for it.

“But in the process of that, there was land issue attached to it. So the contestant whose mother was said to be from Otukpo Nobi was said to have fought with somebody from Otada in the farm last week Wednesday and in the process the person died on Thursday.”

Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Catherine Anene, told journalists in Makurdi that one person died in the tussle, adding that she was yet to get details of the incident.

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