The persistent wave of violence in Ukum Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue state has taken a more sinister turn with the tragic killing of six individuals, among them a proprietor of a local beer parlour and a young man on the cusp of his wedding in the Chito community.
Recent reports also indicate that one of the armed factions operating within that region established a roadblock near the Agboki settlement, effectively blocking access to the Sankera-Chito-Vase road.
These events follow closely on the heels of a series of deadly clashes between rival militias in the LGA, which claimed the lives of nearly ten individuals. In addition to the loss of life, the armed groups also wreaked havoc by destroying a market and numerous properties in the area.
Eyewitnesses have noted that the worsening situation has compelled Tor Ngene, the District Head of the affected community, and his constituents to flee their homes in fear of falling victim to the marauding gangs. The violence has had a severe impact on local business and commerce in the region.
An observer from the community, shedding light on the situation, expressed, “These areas were once vibrant with agricultural activities, particularly the cultivation of yams and other essential crops. However, the unfolding circumstances have forced farmers to abandon their fields, leaving an air of uncertainty hanging over the region.”
The observer further stated, “Just over the past weekend, tragedy struck as six lives were snuffed out. Among the victims was a young man, days away from his wedding, who was ambushed and killed on the road. Additionally, a beer parlour operator met a similar fate in Chito, targeted by a gang that accused him of harboring a rival faction at his establishment.”
The observer went on to describe the dire state of Chito, remarking, “Chito, once a bustling community, now resembles a ghost town due to the relentless cycle of reprisal attacks by the armed gangs active within Ukum LGA.”
In response to these unsettling events, Chief Shima Ayati, a community leader, held the political class accountable for their failure to maintain peace in Ukum LGA. Chief Ayati lamented, “It’s disheartening to learn of fresh bloodshed in Chito. While I lack precise figures, it’s undeniable that lives have been lost once again.”
He continued, “The situation is deeply regrettable. Following the recent elections, representatives from this very area secured positions of power, including a Senator and State Assembly members. However, the silence of these elected officials on this matter is concerning, as it’s their responsibility to address and quell such issues.”
Chief Ayati expressed his apprehension, stating, “This situation breeds fear and speculation about hidden agendas. We, as a community, are failing in our duty, as politics should provide solutions. It’s unfortunate that we’re yet to resolve this banditry issue, despite the passage of time.”
When contacted, Police Public Relations Officer, Superintendent Catherine Anene, shared that she had not yet received any formal reports regarding the incident.