Suspected Benue state communal militants have unleashed mayhem on residents of Ojiogu and Okpochiri Ukwagba Ngbo in Ohaukwsu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State over a land dispute.
Congress gathered that over fifteen dead bodies have been recovered, many are still missing and others were seriously injured following the bloody attack.
It was alleged that the attack was perpetrated by the Ezza people, a neighbour community within the boundary area of Benue and Ebonyi States.
A community source said that properties worth millions of naira were also destroyed as a result of the ugly incident in Ebonyi.
The source who pleaded under anonymity accused both Benue indigenes (warlords) and the Ezza living within the boundary areas to have been responsible for the attack.
He pointed out, “I saw the people that attacked us. They were Benue and Ezza indigenes. What happened is usually an annual development that borders on land dispute.
“This dispute is occasioned by the quest for land, especially for farming by both sides of the divide. One person was killed, many were missing, and many were injured while many are now displaced.
“It usually happens every year during the rainy season. It is a normal land dispute in the area. During the incident, many people scampered for safety. Those people whose houses were destroyed will now become refugees.
“They don’t have anywhere to go to. They will go to their brothers, sisters, and in-laws’ houses to seek refuge. Benue people came together to fight the Ningbo people. It is what I saw on the ground.”
According to the Coordinator, Ningbo North Development Centre, DC, Echem Onyekachi said seven corpses had so far been discovered following the incident.
“As of now, we have discovered seven corpses, 6 injured persons and so many houses and shops were burnt down in many places. Some people are still missing.
“Before now, we have been having clashes with the people of Ado Local Government Area of Benue State. So, it is always during this period that this kind of crisis usually occurs.
“I suspect that this crisis was caused by the Agila people in Benue State. Anybody calling Ezza is on his or her own. Ningbo people and the Ezza people do not have any disputes or crises. I believe that this crisis is caused by the Agila people. It is the issue bordering on land.
“Government should write to the National Boundary Commission, NBC, for land demarcation between Ningbo and Agila people. Without government intervention, the crisis will continue. It is over 100 years. It is above my grandfather.”
The Town Union President for Ukwagba Community, Eze Moses Ekpe, in a telephone chat with Vanguard explained that 15 corpses had so far been discovered in the affected communities of Ningbo.
Mr Ekpe, the search is still on to enable the community to get the details of the number of causalities and those displaced.
“We have alerted the Commissioner of Police and other government agencies. The CP sent some policemen there today. The victims are too many. We are still searching. For now, 15 persons were killed, while many are missing. Houses were burnt and farmlands were destroyed
“We are still discovering dead bodies and that’s why I said we are still searching. We want the government to help us beef up security there. The attack came from the Ezza people.”
Reacting to the incident, the Chairman of Ohaukwu Local Government Area, Clement Odah condemned the incident in the strongest terms and reassured all that no stones will be left unturned to unravel the true circumstances that led to such unwarranted attack and loss of lives and properties.
“Ohaukwu Local Government Council has received with concern, report of the security breaches and attack against the innocent people of Ojiogu and Okpochiri Ukwagba Ngbo on Monday the 27th of June, 2022.
“The council has liaised with appropriate security agents to immediately move into the troubled area while working assiduously with the relevant stakeholders to ensure a quick return of peace and normalcy to Ukwagba.
“Our heartfelt sympathies go to all the affected families and our beloved brothers from the affected villages and indeed the entire Ngboejeogu clan.
“The Council re-affirms our commitment to promote and propagate peace in every part of Ohaukwu Local Government Area and indeed in all communities. The government of Ebonyi State under our peace-loving governor has worked assiduously to restore peace in the entire Ebonyi State and all hands must be on deck to achieve the task of a peaceful Ebonyi State where love and unity reign supreme.
“Once again, our people are assured that government will not rest until total peace is restored in every part of the Local Government and Ukwagba Ngbo community in particular.”
On the attack, the Executive Chairman of Ado LGA of Benue State, Mr James Oche who described the development as strange added that “I completely doubt if our people are involved.
“We are not aware of any crisis in Ebonyi. In recent times, we have had relative peace from this side of the divide. We are fully in control of our people and there has not been any reason why we should fear that our people have been involved in anything.
“It’s strange. This is strange and I completely doubt if our people are involved. I will get in touch with the security operatives under my control and get in touch with you. I want to say that I’m hearing this for the first time and I’m not aware that there’s an issue of insecurity around our borders.”
At the time of this report, several calls made to the phone lines of the State Commissioner of Police, CP Garba Aliyu, and the Command’s Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Chris Anyanwu were not responded to.