March 31, 2023

Benue govt confirms three deaths in conflict over electricity outage

15 bodies recovered, as Ebonyi, Benue communities clash over farmland

By Peter Duru, Makurdi

Benue State Government has confirmed the death of three persons in the communal conflict, over electricity supply, between the youths of Ijegwu and those of neighbouring Ojantele in Obi and Otukpo Local Government Areas, LGAs of the state respectively.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matters, Col. Paul Hemba(retd) who made this known weekend in Makurdi said about six houses were also razed in both communities by the feuding youths.

It would be recalled that crisis betwen the communities erupted about two weeks ago when both communities witnessed three days of electricity outage from the Jos Electricity Distribution Company, JED.

According to a source in the area, following the outage, the youths of Obi felt that the power lines were tampered with by their Otukpo neighbours and they allegedly attempted to tamper with the lines but were resisted by Otukpo youths, leading to the bloody conflict.

Speaking on the issue, the Special Adviser who chided both communities for resorting to violence to resolve the issue said “it is a simple matter that should not have resulted into canon. The Igede people of Obi and Oju LGA and the Otukpo people are not just neighbours but also brothers. There have been a lot of inter tribal  marriages among them and they share affiliation.

“So for an issue of electricity supply to result into a big problem like this is unfortunate.”

He explained that “the incident happened during the general elections and because the police were deployed for purpose of election, they lacked adequate manpower to deal with the issue. But the 401 Army Brigade stepped in and restored calm though there was tension and apprehension amongst the people even after the incident but it has been brought under control.

“From my interaction with the electricity distributors, the transformer they have is enough to supply adequate power to both communities but they lacked wisdom and patience to invite and allow the distribution company to handle it.

“I had a dialogue with stakeholders from both sides including traditional rulers, Local Government Chairmen and religious leaders they regretted the action of the youth and agreed to talk to them to ensure that the ugly trend did not reoccur.

“From my record, we have three deaths and unconfirmed reports are projecting the figure to be higher and that six houses were burnt during the incident.”

Col. Hemba who assured that the State government had taken steps to check the conflict stated that Mobile Policemen were already on ground in the communities to ensure peace in the area.

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