By Peter Duru, Makurdi

The deep animosity and rivalry between the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, came to a head Friday last week when an Appeal Court ruling in favour of the ruling PDP and consequent celebration of the verdict by supporters of the party in Makurdi, went bloody leaving several persons with serious injuries while cars and trucks were burnt.

The development has forced the Benue State Police Command to place an indefinite ban on public procession in the state while heavily armed Police and the Mobile squad now patrol the state capital and its environs to checkmate any further breakdown of law and order.

The carnage which trailed the Appeal Court’s verdict would have been more devastating but for the quick intervention of the Police who drafted men into the Judges’ Quarters and Terwase Agbado areas of the town to avert a spill over of the crisis into the heart of Makurdi town.

Crime Guard gathered from an eyewitness who craved anonymity that the suspected ACN supporters had mobilized at the Judges’ quarters area of the town, known to be their stronghold in the state capital, upon receiving the shocker from the Court of Appeal sitting in Makurdi, which threw out the petition of the ACN governorship candidate and upheld the election of Governor Gabriel Suswam.

Our source stated that while the party members were lamenting their loss, they cited cars and a truck equipped and adorned with musical instruments and PDP crest en-route a victory rally in town and hell was let loose. According to him, the ACN thugs and supporters descended heavily on the PDP supporters burning down the trailer that was meant for the rally and destroying several cars.

He stated that the occupants of the vehicles were not spared as those caught by the rampaging ACN thugs and supporters narrowly escaped death by the whiskers.

The burnt trailer,One of the smashed cars and an injured victim, Victor Amenger.

He said, “When we all received the rumor of the Court of Appeal decision that morning, and going by past experiences, we knew there would be trouble in our vicinity and we all remained in doors. Before noon, we started noticing unusual rise in tension in the neighborhood (Judges’ Quarters) where most bigwigs of the ACN have their residences.

And before long, we noticed a stampede and people were running from all directions in search of safety. It was in the midst of the confusion that we saw some ACN supporters and thugs, armed with cutlasses, knives and axes coming down heavily on the occupants of some vehicles and a truck embedded with PDP logo and flags.

“They burnt down the trailer and smashed several cars after having butchered one of the occupants of the car who they mistook for dead. The man was later rescued by an elderly man who dragged him in a pool of blood into his house and sort medical attention for him”, the eyewitness said.

Meanwhile CrimeGuard was able to trace one of the victims of the bloody attack, Mr. Victor Amenger, a Law School student, who is lying critically ill and due for surgery in few hours at the Federal Medical Center, Makurdi as a result of the injuries he sustained from the attack.

Mumbling his ordeal in an emotion laden -voice, Victor stated that he and some of his friends were driving through Judges’ Quarters to attend a victory gathering in the heart of the town in celebration of the verdict of the Court of Appeal when, according to him, some thugs of the opposition ACN, waylaid and attacked them at Judges’ quarters.

He said, “the attackers succeeded in destroying our cars and burning down the trailer that was decorated in PDP colours and fitted with musical equipment and power generating set meant for the celebration. They had wanted to kill every one of us but most of us were lucky to have escaped. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it before they caught up with me.”

Victor said he got a deep cut on his arm because his attacker actually aimed for his head with his cutlass, “but because I was quick enough to have my hands wrapped round my head, I would have had my brains smashed.”

He said his attackers mistook him for dead after they struck him, but he managed to crawl in his pool of blood to the home of an elder statesman in the neighborhood who rushed him to the Nigeria Air Force Hospital, Makurdi from where he was referred to the Federal Medical Center, Makurdi for further medical attention.

“I just cannot understand why they meted this kind of treatment on us, their action was not provoked by us in any way. That is why I still cannot understand the motive behind the attack, because they were out to kill us. In fact, they thought I was dead when they struck me and I passed out and was bleeding profusely but I thank God, help came my way before I bled to death.”

He wondered why the decision of a court could spark a reaction and action from the opposition ACN that almost set Makurdi ablaze.

“It is quite unfortunate because the constitution of this country avails everyone the freedom to join or associate with any party of his choice, and my choice as provided by the constitution shouldn’t be a reason for anyone to behead me,” he said as he fought back tears.

Reacting to the bloody crisis, the state of ACN, Comrade Abba Yaro, denied that his party supporters had a hand in the carnage. Yaro said, “I don’t know what you are talking about. We do not have thugs in our party, we are peace loving. The fact is that the law says that if anyone is dissatisfied with a court ruling, he has an option of taking the matter to a higher court. We are taking our case to the Supreme Court, so we do not know anything about the violence that trailed the Appeal Court ruling”, the ACN state boss added.

Meanwhile, Crime Guard gathered that the Commissioner of Police in Charge of Benue State, Mr. Emmanuel Obiakor, has initiated moves to call the leaders of both the ruling PDP and the ACN in the state to a truce meeting.

During a chat, the Command’s PPRO, Mr. Ejike Alaribe, ASP, informed that the Police was on the trail of all those behind the upheaval in the state capital at the weekend. He said, “We have identified those that were behind the crisis and we are on their trail; we will definitely arrest and prosecute them.”

He added, “If anyone is aggrieved, all he needs do is to seek legal redress. I see no reason why people will take the laws into their own hands because they are dissatisfied with a particular issue. You will recall that the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Emmanuel Obiakor had on assumption of duties here, warned that he would confront issues of political thuggery and violence with all the seriousness it deserves, and I can assure you that the CP will not shift grounds on that issue and that is the more reason why the perpetrators of this heinous act would not be spared by the Police,” the PPRO stated.

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