The trail of rural violence which enveloped Edumoga District in Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State claimed a prominent victim last night when gangsters shot to death a prominent community leader by name Alhaji Usman Edeba. He was killed between 7 – 8 pm at Olanyega Village along the Enugu – Otukpo Federal Highway near Ugbokolo by youngsters who knew that the local vigilante does not normally deploy before 9 pm daily.
Credible sources in the community, however, ruled out any religious reason for the killing. Although the late Usman remained the only Muslim in the community, he was, indeed, a community leader and well accepted voice in community matters. Even the legislator who facilitated his Hajj in Mecca four years ago is a Christian. Intervention was rather told this is Alhaji Usman’s third encounter with the youngsters, having survived two previous ones. As a petty trader, he is suspected to be wealthy by community standard. And he fell along with three other victims in various spots in the district in a space of three days. One is Sunday Abba who was killed and buried at Opene and his motorcycle stolen. The second is the wife of a target who was, however, not at home when the attackers struck at Iwewe Village. That one was not killed but the legs were shattered. The police have not been too far behind in this case. A Police team said to be cracking the violence has arrested one of those suspected to have participated in the killing of Sunday Abba.
The spate went down in the last few months when vigilantes confronted and killed five of the gangsters one night last May. Now, there appears to be resurgence, playing out in a way that neither the local police unit nor the special teams can anticipate and block because, unlike before, there is dispersal from semi-urban Ugbokolo to the rural depths.