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Fresh killings spark protest in Benue

The fresh killings of 11 people on Wednesday morning by suspected bandits in Ayati community of Ukum Local Government Area in Benue State have sparked…

The fresh killings of 11 people on Wednesday morning by suspected bandits in Ayati community of Ukum Local Government Area in Benue State have sparked a wild protest in the vicinity.
Ukum is one of the three LGAs in the Sankera ancestral bloc that has been plagued by armed outlaws for many years, despite several joint security operations aimed at eradicating gangsterism in the area.
Residents said the latest killings occured early hours of Wednesday after the bandits in their numbers launched an attack on Ayati, the headquarters of Borikyo ward, shooting dead the 11 people and leaving many others with varying degrees of injury.
The development forced angry Borikyo youths to besiege the Sankera-Ayati-Sai road and Ukum local government secretariat to express their grief over the incessant killings in the community.
It was learnt that the angry protesters vandalised the council secretariat, shattering windows and destroying other things at sight with stones and sticks.
A resident told our correspondent on the telephone, “The gunmen opened gunfire and killed seven people on the spot at night. More bodies were recovered hours later bringing the causalities to 11. Now, the youths are protesting seriously.
“They have barricaded the roads with the dead bodies, asking Governor Hyacinth Alia to act because the killings have continued so long without any clear steps to end the madness.
“They are protesting at Sankera, the headquarters of Ukum LGA. Angry youths are currently demonstrating to register their grievances about the continuous killing of innocent and defenceless people of Borikyo in Ukum LGA on a daily basis without any action from government to arrest the ugly situation.”
Internal Security Adviser to the Benue State Governor, Chief Joseph Har, told journalists in Makurdi that the protesters were threatening to burn down the LG secretariat because of the killings in the area.
Har added, “We don’t have the details yet but bandits are responsible. They (youths) are protesting and threatening to burn down the LG secretariat but they are aware that the state government has dislodged these bandits.
“So what the bandits just did is what we call in security parlance, ‘the last kick of a dying horse.’
“Just few days ago, there was massive destruction of their camps in Katsina Ala. So this is their last kick. They have been dislodged and they are trying everything they can to vent their anger on the armless people and possibly cause confusion in the towns.
“I have spoken to the leader of the youths and I told them to be patient. Government is going to sustain the momentum. We will not be deterred by the killings but we will sustain the heat and pressure on them so they can be degraded completely.”
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, SP. Catherine Anene, confirmed the incident to our correspondent in a text message, stating, “I’m aware of the protest but I’m yet to receive details.”

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