16 killed, many missing, property destroyed in latest fierce clash
Governor imposes dusk to dawn curfew to curb mayhem
By Umar Yusuf, Yola
INHABITANTS of Lugunda and Wajas in Guyuk and Lamurde local government areas of Adamawa State are supposed to be bonded by love and unity given their proximity to one another. They were born to find themselves as close neighbours and cannot easily separate themselves. However, the contest over a piece of land, which should rather unite than divide them, has shattered the peace, stability, safety, love and unity that they have known over the years.
The sharp disagreement has caused incalculable damage to both communities as hundreds of people have been killed and property destroyed following incessant violent confrontations over the land in question. This piece of land is considered to be unusually fertile for crop production and animal husbandry. As a result, the plot of land has continued to remain a source of constant deadly fight. Arewa Voice gathered that the two states have tried severally to rein in the protagonists of land disputes to give peace a chance but have not succeeded at any point in time.
The latest in the series of brutal fights took place on Wednesday when no fewer than 16 persons, mostly farmers were slain by yet to be determined persons from the two warring communities. Apart from those violently killed, many others are still missing from the two communities while private homes and public buildings have also been damaged.
As usual, accusations and counter accusations as to who started the deadly fight have now taken the centre stage as the government of Adamawa begins to enquire into the dastardly action of the natives. While the Wajas accuse the Lugundas of killing three of their members in their farms, the Lugundas claimed it was their neighbours who actually killed three of their kinsmen, making it difficult to know exactly who the aggressors were.
However, the situation got worse the moment news of the felling of the three farmers filtered into the communities as many fighters from both sides moved in with more weapons to defend their positions and interests, leading to more deaths and destructions in the process. As a result of the confrontation, many houses were turned into rubbles in a jiffy while many fled the area into safety. Consequently, sporadic shootings were heard in the area with surrounding communities of Lafiya Lamurde boiling for days without any intervention. Confusion and anarchy reigned supreme in the aftermath of the attack while smoke could be seen billowing from burning houses.
As a result of the attack, the busy Yola –Numan – Gombe highway was immediately blocked at Lafiya Lamurde with motorists and other commuters stalled for over four hours. Following the ugly development, security agents were mobilised to contain the situation and clear the highway for commuters to pass to their respective destinations. However, while the agents intervened, the communities moved the fight deeper into their villages and continued to usie lethal weapons that sank many houses and wounded many on both sides.
Sources told Arewa Voice that the use of sophisticated weapons by the two sides was responsible for the high casualty figures recorded. According to locals, the attacks continued unabated for two consecutive days as killings, burning of houses and other structures were very visible in the areas.
Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State had to cut short his official engagement in Abuja as he arrived home on the third day of the crisis to visit the scene of the battle. Fintiri, who drove straight from the Yola Airport to Lafiya Lamurde for an on-the-spot assessment of the crisis, could not hold back his tears over the wanton destruction of lives and property by the warring sides.
Disturbed by what he saw, Governor Fintiri immediately slammed a dusk to dawn curfew on Guyuk and Lamurde local government areas and warned that any further attack would force the administration to deal ruthlessly with those causing trouble in the area. “We have exhausted all means to arrest the ugly trend and senseless killings and destruction of properties in the areas and we are left with no option than to take the decisive decision,” the governor warned.
Fintiri said the government was aware of attempts by some individuals to take the laws in their hands by attacking individuals in their homes and public places, noting that the unfortunate breach of place in the area which has lingered for a while compelled the government to slam the curfew.
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