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Brutalisation of Edo community leader: Eyewitnesses, family allege invaders conspired with police

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…We didn’t compromise— Police

By Davies Iheamnachor

UKHIRI—CONTROVER-SY  has erupted  over the role  police officers played, last Monday, when over 100 armed youths from a neighbouring community invaded and attacked HRH Godwin Aigbe, the Enogie (Duke) of Ukhiri community, Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area, Edo State,  at his palace,  with policemen allegedly refusing to confront the attackers.

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The rampaging hooligans shot the community leader, cut him several times with machetes, beat him with wood and left him in the pool of his blood to die, while security agents looked the other way.

Residents, who accused the police of colluding  with the attackers, asked among other things why the security agents on ground in the community when the hooligans struck, did  not arrest any of them?

More than a week after the impudent  attack, HRH Aigbe,  who was preparing to celebrate Igue festival, a period of peace, is still battling with life at an undisclosed hospital in the state. Several others villagers were injured in the mayhem.

Eyewitnesses and family members, who spoke to NDV,  insisted that the police compromised security, an allegation that the police strongly denied.

Ukhiri and Ulegun communities have been at loggerheads over 222 hectares of land since 1971 with several suits pending in court. Meanwhile, residents have fled Ulegun community in droves for fear of reprisal attack by Ukhiri people.

I called you, you didn’t pick, HRH Aigbe tells DPO

A villager, Osayande Okhuarobo, said: “That day, Monday December 16, the Enogie was supposed to perform Igue. We were waiting here to celebrate Igue with him, suddenly, we saw people running from a section of the village to the palace. When they got here, they told us that people came from the direction of the layout in the community with guns and beat them up, scattered the work tools of those who were working in their sites.

“The hooligans took some of them to their community and cautioned them that the structures they were building should stop because they are the owners of the land. As at the time, Enogie was inside the palace, we ran into the bush and from there we were seeing what they were doing. They destroyed everything in the palace— vehicles, chairs and canopies scattered everywhere after that they left.

“They should be more than a hundred people they pursued us into the bush. Policemen were at the junction.

“After the attack, police came from Ugbekun and recorded the scene, the enogie told the DPO, Madam, I called you three times and you did not pick.

“Thirty minutes after he called the police,  they (attackers) came back and passed through where the policemen were stationed. When enogie saw them, he ran into the palace and locked the door and we ran away again into the bush. They were shooting sporadically and police shot teargas.”

Police refused to respond to distress call—Henry

Sharing his own experience, Osagie Henry, who said he was with Aigbe before they unleashed mayhem on him, stated: “When they came back, we were together inside the palace with some people. Then we saw smoke inside the palace and Enogie thought it was fire and that made him to run out of the palace through the back door.

“They surrounded the enogie at the corridor of the house he ran into and shot him up to six times. Then they now used a plank to break his head and neck and other parts of his body. I ran down to where the policemen were standing and told them to come and rescue enogie, but they did not make any attempt to move from they were standing to follow me.”

Policemen walked away when I asked for help —Osaigbovo

On his part, Ogbomo Osaigbovo, said: “I am not from this community, but I have a property here that I am developing. I was coming to celebrate Igue with the enogie, but I drove into the clash.

Damaged property.

“When I drove in, I saw Ugbekun DPO with her men. I even greeted her but when I drove in, I noticed that everywhere was scattered and smoke was everywhere. Somebody ran to me and said I should leave that they are fighting there.

“It was when I wanted to make a U-turn that two boys ran to me shouting that they have killed enogie and he is lying lifeless on the ground. I ran back to the police to tell them that enogie has been shot and he is lying down lifeless, but the police did not show any sign of concern and just walked away.

“I rushed back and with the help of the boys, we put enogie in my vehicle and I drove back to where the police where and I told them I need to be escorted to the hospital, so that they will attend to me.”

Family reacts

Younger brother to Aigbe, Mr. Sylvester, said: “I am a brother to the Enogie of Ukhiri. I was not around, but they called me that enogie was dead and that Ulegun people came here with so many people to attack Enogie, shot him in the ear, used cutlass to cut him and wood to break his neck and burst his head. I ran down to Benin from Lagos, where I am based to the hospital and met him in a coma.

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“From the report I gathered, the police were virtually supervising the attack on enogie, which is very surprising because that is my constituency. These same people went into enogie’s palace, destroyed it, removed undisclosed amount of money and carted away documents.

“Before now, enogie had written a petition to the police about an earlier attack they launched on the community and he mentioned the perpetrators. I am pleading and asking the government to investigate this matter, the DSS and every other security agency to look into this issue and bring justice to us.”

Police refute allegation

Edo Police spokesman, DSP Chidi Nwabuzor, confirmed the attack on the enogie, saying efforts were on to arrest the perpetrators.

A police source, however, denied alleged police complicity, saying that Aigbe was inside the palace and police officers provided security around the palace, but that they were surprised when the enogie ran out of the house.

Ulegun not involved in attack—Kingsley Erhauyi

Ulegun was deserted when NDV visited the community and a number of villagers spoken to, said they knew nothing about the attack on Ukhiri.

Okaeghele of Ulegun, Kingsley Erhauyi, who spoke on phone, said HRH Aigbe was attacked by his own subjects, not the people of Ulegun, as alleged.

His words: “We are not involved in the attack. We have a land dispute with Enogie Aigbe and he used that to link any attack on him to us.

“On Monday, the enogie shot five boys and their relatives retaliated. Go to Suyi Hospital, they are still there. The attack has nothing to do with Ulegun.”

He said it was relatives of the injured youths that mobilised and attacked their traditional ruler. On why the Ulegun community appeared deserted, Erhauyi said the people were scared of frivolous allegations from Enogie Aigbe.

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He added: “That man used police to harass us several times. This is a local environment and people do not know their rights. It is internal crisis that caused problem in Ukhiri and not us.”

Vanguard

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