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7 killed in Benue cult clashes

At least seven people have been killed in cult-related clashes at the North Bank community in Makurdi metropolis of Benue State. Residents said that the…

At least seven people have been killed in cult-related clashes at the North Bank community in Makurdi metropolis of Benue State.

Residents said that the killings occured during the weekend after members of rival cults popularly referred to as “black” and “red” locked horns in a battle of supremacy.

The residents explained that the major market in North Bank could not open for trading or other activities on Friday and Saturday following the disturbances by the cultists who went on the rampage in the vicinity.

Some of them claimed that the killings could be more than seven if combined with those who lost their lives in the past six days, while others said two of the deceased were beheaded.

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Commander of a local vigilante known as Operation Shara (Sweep), Nura Umar, told our correspondent on the telephone that between Sunday and early hours of Monday, seven people had been killed.

Umar said one person was first injured by a member of one of the cult groups and he (commander) took the young man who was a commercial motorcyclist to a hospital where he died on Sunday morning.

He stated that the other rival group went and killed two persons among their rival group, adding that the attack  triggered a reprisal that led to another four killings.

“They removed one head and went with it. The red killed two while the black killed four. One Okada (motorcyclist) man was first killed. Now, soldiers, police and civil defence officers, including other security agents are here (North Bank),” Umar narrated.

Similarly, Comrade Cibilus Odinaka, the North Bank Market Chairman, lemented that the activities of cultists continued to hamper the operations of the market which serves part of the largest population in Makurdi metropolis.

“Market was not opened on Friday and Saturday due to the cult fighting. We expect that there should be military presence so that traders can go about their businesses and be happy. The market is not fully opened this morning (Monday) and the traders cannot feel safe if the presence of police or the military men are not there.

“The market looks like a battlefield where the two rivals come to fight. They had tried to turn this to look like a Tiv, Hausa fight but it’s not. The other part that is Tiv will come and vent their anger on the Hausa in the market and vice versa. You know when it affects the Hausa, it will affect other tribes.

“From the little information I gathered, one of the rivals came to the market to access some products and the other people saw him and harassed him so he went back and told his friend and they came back to fight; that is how the whole issue started. Between that day and now (Monday), six persons have been killed.

“To calm the whole issue, a stakeholders’ meeting is necessary. And as market leaders, they should provide us with security. Even if we have six force men, three behind and three in front of the market, it will give the people peace of mind to transact without fear.

“Sometime, this happens with several deaths and destruction. You will call soldiers, but they will not come. Even the C Police Division, we don’t have anyone. Their response are usually very low,” Odinaka said.

When contacted, the Police Spokesperson for Benue Command, SP Catherine Anene, confirmed that cult activities in North Bank were reported and that the command deployed police officers to take charge.

Anene added that investigation was ongoing but that she did not have the report of the number of fatalities.

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