The spectre of violence which has haunted Benue State since the herdsmen attack on Agatu in early 2016 is not over yet as violence has been reported between the Taraku and Otukpo communities bordering each other. The details are still sketchy but killings have been confirmed.
This would be a different kind of violence because they correspond to ethnic differences in the state. While the Taraku side is Tiv, the Otukpo side is Idoma. Stakeholders are, therefore, anxious about what is being done to contain the flare.
Those who spoke to Intervention could not be categorical but they all made references to age-long boundary dispute between Taraku and Otukpo. The current flare occurred, according to sources, when bulldozers were sighted on the neutral zone agreed upon years back and from which all activities are barred. It is not clear yet who brought the bulldozers but the information is that the presence of the bulldozers attracted youths from Otukpo and the subsequent clashes.
There has been reported migration into Taraku as well as into Otukpo from the zone of violence which no one could confirm to Intervention whether the Police have contained.
The Governor Samuel Ortom administration has been overwhelmed by violence almost since assumption of office. Benue State has been a key theatre of the herdsmen violence in central Nigeria, beginning from the case in Agatu in 2016 to the January 2018 Benue killings. The 2019 General Elections added its own bits. The state has had to run many IDP camps, gulping millions and posing a big financial burden.
The government itself has had no history of manipulating ethnic differences. In fact, it has done well regarding reconciliation and trying to contain new security challenges in rural and agrarian communities such as Edumoga-Okpoga in Okpokwu LGA.
Hence the desire expressed so far for this flare up of violence between Taraku and Otukpo to be brought under control as quickly as possible.
There have been no official statements at the level of the state government and the Benue Police Command up to late yesterday night but, being on the Makurdi-Otukpo-Enugu Federal Highway, the site of violence is not remote as for Police not to have been there since.