Three persons went down at 3 O’clock in the afternoon yesterday at Ingle Village in an exchange of fire by clan gangs over a rape case. The clash was ahead of a scheduled police intervention which asked one of the warring parties to hold fire till it arrived the village. Already, the police are holding one of the suspected rapists in custody. The story changed when charged relations of the woman victim sought justification for the action and one thing led to another. One of the three killed goes by the name Francis Mathew Ohemu. He is described by someone who knew him to be completely free of any tendency to criminality.
A detailed eye witness account to Intervention showed that the bloodbath followed prolonged shooting which suggested the nature of the visitors to the small village as opposed to ordinary conflict managers who had come to seek explanation. ‘Ancient’ feud between Olaklama and Olajogwu clans of the same village is read into the violence too. The fear now is that the feud could degenerate into full scale war between the two communities if care is not taken.
While the community and the police in Ojapo are picking up the pieces of that particular violence, feelers from well connected sources are suspecting a full scale return of gangsters to Ugbokolo urban. No clear targets are indicated but those who claim to have followed their pattern of operation think so. The gangsters have shifted operations to the surrounding villages as well as the interior of the vast Edumoga District which hosts the Benue Polytechnic at Ugbokolo, its main urbanising settlement. This is in the past one week partly due to heavier police presence at Ugbokolo. But now, some security operatives think the whole thing has also become political and a strike at Ugbokolo might have been planned. Though without concrete evidence, the speculators said they should not be dismissed. “Even with the police in Ugbokolo, these boys can do whatever they like”, it was argued. This is the first time a political dimension has been brought in although nobody has been remotely or otherwise fingered. It suggests a completely new dimension as Ugbokolo is where major politicians in the area live.
The polytechnic town of Ugbokolo in Benue State and environ has been thrown into a violent turmoil since the beginning of April 2017. The police patrols the town 24 hours but they do not hold the ace if a particular person has been targeted for whatever reasons. Fear has paralysed capacity for initiatives although neighborhood vigilantes have sprang up here and there.
The Benue Police Command hinted Intervention that part of the problem is the degree to which people in an area come up with information, the locals hit back by saying that without the police, the problem would not have escalated. Each camp has its own argument. Meanwhile, law and order suffers.
Mr Bashir Makama, the Benue State Commissioner for Police is scheduled to visit Ugbokolo Tuesday. It is not clear whether there will be a security earthquake when he does or whether he would deodorize the status quo. About 20 persons have been killed since early April 2017, excluding members of the attacking gang where they have been overpowered. How and when Edumoga would get out of this is the question on all lips.