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Herdsmen, youths clash in Plateau: 2 Operation Safe Haven personnel killed, 2 others injured

By Peter Duru & Marie-Therese Nanlong
J
os—Two personnel attached to the Operation Safe Haven, OpSH have been killed and two others injured while trying to contain the violence that broke out yesterday between herdsmen and Irigwe youths at Rafiki area of Plateau State.

This came as a young man was feared dead while several others sustained bullet wounds following a fracas involving the Police in Naka, Gwer West Local Government Area of Benue State, youths and commercial motorcycle operators in the town.

On the Kogi incident, spokesman of OpSH, Major Adam Umar, told Vanguard on phone that “there was a clash between the Irigwe and herdsmen in the area, following the killing of Irigwe people the other day.

“As a result, accusation, counter-accusation, allegation and speculation there was a clash between the parties. There were casualties, but for now we don’t have the exact figure.

“We lost two of our men, while two are wounded and are receiving treatment in a hospital in Jos. Also, the situation is now under control but we have arrested some partakers in the clash, eight of them from both sides.

“We have recovered some ammunition used during the clash. So, in order to maintain law and order, we have reinforced our deployment and we have also deployed a fighter jet to carry out air surveillance to ensure the maintenance of law and order. The representatives of the two parties involved in the clash are holding a meeting at the Government House in order to find a lasting solution to the problem.”

It was gathered that the attacks began in the wee hours of yesterday forcing residents to flee for safety and claiming that herdsmen were shooting sporadically and people were scampering for safety.

It was gathered that the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Peter Azi, State Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Reverend Soja Bewarang and some security agents visited the areas to see the level of carnage.

On Benue violence, Vanguard gathered from an eyewitness that the crisis started when a young man who recently bought a van in the town mounted a siren on it and consistently harassed Police personnel on stop and search duty in the town with it.

“The Police after several warnings to the young man (names withheld) decided to arrest him at a check point because he was not supposed to use a siren. Unfortunately, the young man resisted the arrest and also went as far as struggling to snatch a riffle from one of the Police officers on duty.

“It was in the midst of that confusion that a shot was fired from the gun which killed a commercial motorcycle operator who was not too far from the scene of the fight while the van owner sustained injuries.

“Angered by the death of their member, ‘Okada’ riders in Naka town went on rampage attacking any police personnel they came across in the town. They also went as far as sacking the Naka Police Station after which they released all those in detention in the station. From there they started visiting the homes of Police personnel in the town and burning their personal houses and personal effects while the police shot sporadically in the air to scare them leading to the injury of many.”

“As I speak with you, houses are on fire in Naka town and property that is said to belong to any police man or woman is set ablaze by the angry mob. Even the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, in the area narrowly escaped death because the mob felt he was innocent.”

“Though the situation has been brought under control with the intervention of Governor Samuel Ortom, the Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Titus Zam who hails from the area, there is palpable tension in the town as at this moment.”

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Assistant Superintendent, ASP, Moses Yamu said he was yet to get full details of the crisis.

 


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