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Igede people seek FG intervention in renewed hostilities

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By Henry Iyorkase, Makurdi.

The people of Igede extraction of Benue South Senatorial District, have sent a ‘Save our Souls’ (SOS) message to President Muhammadu Buhari for quick intervention in the renewed militia attacks between Bonta of Konshisha and Ukpute /Ochoro, resulting in the loss of several lives among the three warring parties in the state. 

Addressing a press conference, in Makurdi, at the weekend, The leader of the IGEDE Youth Association, Mr Thomas Oga Onah said it had become imperative to draw the attention of Mr.president  on the incessant onslaught visited 0n Igede people by  Tiv militias of Konshisha  Local Government. 

He maintained that the people of Bonta and Ukpute were neighbours and had lived peacefully since time immemorial, and even had inter-marriage, amongst other valuable ties between them. 

He further indicted the state government for allegedly supporting the Tiv militia youths of Konshisha in masterminding incessant killings which he said, erupted again last Tuesday, 20th July, 2021, at Ochoro where many people were killed. 

The spokesman also revealed that the “current crisis began in June 2020, and later spilled over to 22nd July with no end in sight, pointing out that 11 soldiers were sent in the beginning, alongside their commander allegedly to curtail the constant uprising, but unfortunately were killed in the process by Bonta militias in April, this year. 

According to him, “the hostilities have persisted,” noting that, “hardly a day goes by without having to witness killings, maiming, looting and destruction of properties belonging to Ukpute community of Oju/Ochoro resulting in violent skirmishes and many losses of lives. 

Continuing, Mr. Onah lamented further that “on 20th July, being Tuesday, another lingered on, as Bonta  militias allegedly causing mayhem which led to the death of a traditional ruler, known as Chief  Denni Okpe, alongside others who were gruesomely murdered,” adding that some were still at large, while some had been discovered  missing since the rampage erupted in the  community  of Ochoro which  is predominately  Igede  tribe in Konshisha, who have  coexisted together since the  pre-colonial era.” 

“Thereafter, when the creation of Konshisha took place in 1976, they have remained integral part of each other within the neighbourhood until forth night ago, he enthused. 

According to Mr. Onah, “When the Tiv militias within the neighbourhood evaded and unleashed horror on the Igede people, the youth leader recalled that the attack was unprovoked, just because they are Igede people sharing same council with the other.

“Apparently, due to alleged hatred, these people developed unfriendly postures over the years, often times taking arms against our people at the slightest provocation, leading to destruction of farm produce and large-scale human carnage occasioned by constant attacks perpetrated by Tiv people due to hatred for no obvious reasons,” he stressed.

Onah said, “Concerted efforts on the part of Governor Samuel Ortom in restoring peace between the disputed communities yielded no positive result, rather it has aggravated beyond human imagination.” 

Mr. Onah, however, accused Governor 0rtom of allegedly playing ethnic conspiracy in taken side with his Tiv kinsmen militias of Konshisha, stating that, “I make bold to say so, due to his inability towards finding amicable enduring solutions to the prolonged impasse where each side lost fortunes. 

He recalled recently that one of the illustrious sons of the soil, Mr Sunday Odeh Egena, was arraigned and slammed charges at the instance of Governor Samuel 0rtom, who spoke against the poor handling of the matter. 

Onah maintained that, “We are, therefore, calling on President Buhari to direct for urgent deployment of troops to the disputed areas as well as to also demarcate their boundary to serve as long term measure with a view to curtailing encroachment on both sides. 

They also urged Mr. President to commit the military authority to install military post at the boundary between the two communities to forestall future reoccurrence of the militias’ hostilities on both sides.

 He requested for speedy reopening of Makurdi-Aliade-Oju Road while he also called for the provision of internal security measures to guarantee safety of travellers plying the routes. 

When contacted, Governor Samuel Ortom disclosed that efforts were being intensified to find lasting peace, but they had thwarted the moves.

According to him, “A committee was set up, headed by Deputy Governor Engr Benson Abounu, to find a panacea to the protracted problem, but couldn’t cooperate and it resulted to fighting.” 

He reiterated his desire to proffer a lasting solution to the crises, warning that, “if anyone wishes to drag my name and malign me, I will seek redress in law court.”

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