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“Killer herdsmen cleared my son and friend to pass, then opened fire on them”

• Gov. Obaseki vows justice will be served

BY SIMON EBEGBULEM, BENIN-CITY

There was tension at Ugboha in Esan South East Local Government Area of Edo State after suspected Fulani herdsmen murdered three persons, including a first year student of the Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma, Collins Ojierakhi. The incident occurred penultimate Friday at about 7:30pm when Collins and his friends were on their way back to Ugboha from Uromi. The killings forced Governor Godwin Obaseki and the state Commissioner of Police, Babatunde Kokumo to visit the village last Sunday when Obaseki gave security agents seven days to arrest the perpetrators.

*Gov. Obaseki condoles with the families of victims
*Gov. Obaseki condoles with the families of victims

Apart from Collins, other killed include a toddler and a secondary school student, Victor Momodu. Collins’ father, Mr Festus Ojierakhi, narrated, “I was in the house eating at about 8pm when I asked about where my son had gone to. I was told he went to Uromi with his friends. Later, around 9pm, the mother of my son´s friend came to the house, crying that herdsmen had killed her son. I rushed out of the house and asked about my own son.

I was told he died too with his friend. We immediately ran to the scene of the attack. When we got there, we were told that the police had come to take the corpses to Ubiaja mortuary. I was told my son and two others including the friend died. They said the other person that died was Igbo. The story as narrated by eye witnesses was that as my son was riding home on his Okada, some herdsmen and their cattle blocked the road and they waited for them to leave the road. Immediately they passed, some of their people in the bush opened fire on my son and his friends and they died on the spot. I have been to the Area Commander’s office and they said they were investigating the matter. I don´t know what to do. This is a young boy that just entered university”.

Reacting to the incident, Benin National Congress (BNC) and Esan Youths vowed to embark on a procession with coffins to demand the arrest of the assailants. In a statement by the BNC Director of Publicity, David Ekomwenrenren, the group said it would not fold its hands and allow the kind of killings that happened in Benue State to happen in Edo, claiming that over 50 persons had been killed by alleged herdsmen in the past four months in different parts of the state. “We are saying enough is enough. The BNC is going to mobilize our people across the three senatorial districts of the state for a procession with caskets until all the perpetrators are arrested and brought to justice.  And we also advise that the governor should take steps that will sustain cordial relations between the Edo people and the Hausa/Fulani generally or else we might give eviction notice to all Hausa/Fulani in Edo”.

Obaseki who visited the families of the victims, last Monday, condemned the killings and promised that the state will spare no resources in fishing out the perpetrators for prosecution.  He reiterated his directive to security agencies to apprehend the bandits within seven days. The visits to the families of the victims were followed by a Town Hall Meeting held in Ubiaja where the governor unveiled new measures to tackle violent crime in Edo.The measures, according to him, include the overhaul of Operation Thunderstorm, the taskforce dedicated to fighting crime in the state.

He said 36 patrol vans had been procured for security agencies to patrol the 18 local government areas of the state, with each local council receiving two patrol vehicles each. Addressing elders from Edo South at the occasion as well as women, representatives of Hausa community and youths, Obaseki said: “We will apprehend the people who committed this heinous crime and bring them to justice. We are also deploying economic development initiatives to combat crime”. The governor explained that the state’s new security architecture will accommodate vigilante groups from various communities, who will be expected to assist in maintaining peace and order.

The state Commissioner of Police, Mr Johnson Kokumo, said that Obaseki had been proactive in dealing with security in the state, noting that the setting up of a committee to mediate on farmers/herdsmen clashes is a step in the right direction.”

 


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