By Umar Yusuf & Boluwaji Obahopo, with agency report
At least 25 people were killed in violent clashes, at the weekend, between Christian and Muslim mobs in Taraba State, prompting a round-the-clock curfew, an aid worker has said.
This happened as gunmen suspected to be armed robbers killed three persons in Yola, Adamawa State capital.
The toll of the weekend violence reached 32 after local government elections in Kogi State left four, including an aspirant, dead.
“We have recovered 20 bodies from the violence so far,” the Taraba aid workers said about the Friday unrest in the town of Wukari, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the state capital Jalingo.
“We are still going round the town in search of more bodies,” he said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media about death tolls.
Authorities have imposed a curfew in the area following the bloody clashes, officials said.
Local residents said the violence erupted when the funeral procession of a traditional chief from the predominantly Christian Jukun ethnic group marched through a Muslim neighbourhood chanting slogans, which Muslims viewed as an act of provocation.
Tensions have been on the rise in the mostly Christian town of Wukari since February, when a dispute over the use of a football pitch between Muslim and Christian soccer teams set off sectarian riots that claimed several lives.
In the Adamawa incident, the three victim were killed at a popular shopping centre in Vinikland along the every busy Yola – Mubi Road.
Eyewitnesses said the gunmen earlier robbed an NNPC Mega Filling Station and another private filling station before they proceeded to the shopping centre.
According to the eyewitnesses, the gunmen drove to the filling stations and the shopping centre in a Peugeot 406 car as they pretended to be customers before carrying out their operations.
At the two petrol stations, it was gathered that their sales for the day were carted away by the gunmen.
Two of the victims of the incident at the shopping centre were said to be to staffers of a new generation bank in Adamawa, though this could not be ascertained at press time.
Following the incident, the ever busy Yola – Mubi Road linking Borno, Yobe and other parts of the North East sub-region was cordoned by a joint military operation.
It was not clear whether arrests were made, though the state police command confirmed the robbery incident.
Kogi: Polls violence
In Kogi State, yesterday, violence marred council polls in some local government areas with four persons reported dead and an election office razed.
A councillorship aspirant in Awo Ward 1 in Ojoku District of Ankpa, Adonis Omeh, one of the victims, was, on Friday night, allegedly shot at close range by unknown assailants. Omeh, who allegedly contested the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket in the ward with two others, was said to be returning from a meeting with party members when he met his untimely death.
Reports from Odu Ward 1 in Dekina Local Government said two persons were killed during a clash between PDP and ACN supporters over distribution of electoral materials.
The identities of the victims (both from the governor’s ward) could not be ascertained.
At Alloma, former Governor Abubakar Audu’s home town, Mr John Okpanachi, a youth leader, was allegedly shot dead by assailants in police uniform for challenging them over non-receipt of electoral materials.
The assailants were said to have also abducted the ACN councillorship candidate in the area, Mallam Danjuma Yunusa, along side some youths who were thrown into their vans and driven away.
Confirming the incidents, Kogi Police Public Relations Officer, DSP, Amadi Nwaneri, said only one person was killed in Dekina and was yet to get the reports on the Awo and Alloma killings.
In MopaMuro, the Deputy Governor’s Local Government, elections were marred by people suspected to be members of the opposition who stalled the polls till noon.
The Deputy Governor, Mr. Yomi Awoniyi, said: “From Friday night the opposition were playing out their words to stop the elections. For six hours this morning, they were causing riot and beating people. We had to call for (police) reinforcement before they could allow materials to be used. You can go to the hospital to access for yourself”.
One of the victims, Mr. Juwon Elekula, who is the NULGE secretary and was to serve as presiding Officer, said he was dealt machete blows on the head when he insisted to conduct the elections.
Election office razed
The state Independent Electoral Commission office in Bassa local government area of the state along with election materials were burnt by unidentified party supporters on Friday night.
The spokesperson for the opposition in Kogi, Dino Melaye, was arrested on the eve of election but released four hours later.
Dino, leading a protest from the G.R.A, Lokoja, was accosted at the Kogi Hotel Roundabout and apprehended by security personnel shortly after addressing a press conference stating the opposition’s stand to boycott the council polls.