Tension As Benue Community Comes Under Heavy Attack by Kidnappers, Gunmen

Tension As Benue Community Comes Under Heavy Attack by Kidnappers, Gunmen

  • Kidnappers and unknown gunmen seem to have taken over the Oho-Ogbo in Owukpa, Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue state
  • Business activities were put on hold, shops locked as the peaceful environment has become the den of kidnappers
  • Checks by Legit.ng revealed Owukpa is an isolated and abandoned community with no single healthcare centre, a development that worsens the current plight of the community

It was late in the evening of Friday, June 3, 2022, when our reporter arrived at Oho-Ogbo in Owukpa, Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue state.

The usual hustle and bustle had gone quiet. There was pin-drop silence. Shops had closed for the night and the only sign of life noticed in the community was the occasional barking of dogs and the chit-chats of the birds.

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Sadly, one Mr Okpe Augustine who was rushing a cousin to St. Mary’s hospital in Okpoga told our correspondent that the once peaceful Owukpa has turned into a den of kidnapping and bandits allegedly perpetrated by herdsmen.

Benue community, terrorists, Oho-Ogbo in Owukpa, Ogbadibo LGA
Benue community is under heavy attack by kidnappers, gunmen. Photo credit: Adoyi Ali
Source: Original

He said:

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“Today is a sad day for us in this community. I’m rushing to Okpoga to save the life of my cousin who was shot in the stomach by the kidnappers that attacked St. Mary’s Catholic Church Aho-Owukpa. The gunshot hit his stomach and has affected his intestine.”

Kidnappers inside Aho-Ogbo Catholic Church

Legit.ng gathered that suspected kidnappers stormed St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Aho-Ogbo, Owukpa in an attempt to abduct the Rev. Father. After shattering the glasses of the parish house and could not find the priest as planned, they left with one Mary, a cook in the church. They also shot sporadically to scare any possible attempt to stop them. In the process, a young man of about 30 years of age was shot and rushed to the hospital.

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Owukpa is an isolated and abandoned community with no single healthcare centre. A sick or accident victim will have to travel several kilometers to get manageable medical attention.

The local vigilantes’ effort to rescue the Revd Father’s cook failed, and the cook was held for several days. She was later set free and found around Eha-Amufu in Isu Uzor Local Government Area of Enugu state, after the payment of an undisclosed amount for ransom.

Kidnappers attack Agbara

But when the community thought that respite had come, with the mobilization of local security, a businessman who is into hospitality business, Mr Joseph Agbara escaped death at the whisker along Ukwo-Ai-Ifam road on Tuesday.

Some armed men suspected to be Fulani herdsmen attempted to kidnap him while he was driving through the area.

He, however, refused to stop when he was waved down, but his car was riddled with bullets. It took the intervention of the local vigilantes for the gun-wielding kidnappers to have left the area.

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Logger rescued by vigilantes between Orokam/Owukpa

Similarly, a logger working in a forest between Ukwo-Owukpa and Orokam was kidnapped Thursday afternoon. The man popularly known as ‘Popular’ was being taken far into the forest when some local vigilantes invaded the area and rescued him. Popular did not, however, escape without a gunshot wound on his right leg.

Idomaland under siege by suspected herdsmen

Legit.ng observes that the entire Idomaland is gradually coming under siege as Edumoga-Ehaje, a community in Okpokwu Local government recently came under attack with the killing of no fewer than 11 persons by suspected Fulani marauders.

Also, the Eha-Amufu community, on Wednesday came under a heavy attack by suspected herdsmen. No fewer than 5 persons were killed while property and farm settlements were destroyed in the attack. Eha-Amuhu is a Benue neigbouring community, sharing its boundaries with Ankpa in Owukpa, Ogbadibo Local Government Area.

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Benue state police command silent

When Legit.ng reached out to the Benue State Police Command through Catherine Sewuese, the Police Public Relations Officer could not take her calls. A police source, however, told our correspondent that the tipper workshop around Adigwu could be responsible to the rise in criminality around the area. He said there was a need to flush them out. He said bad boys from South East, Kogi, and other places assemble in the place to perpetrate crimes.

DPO’s mobile phone inactive

An effort to reach the Divisional Police Officer of Orokom police station, S.P Dutse failed as his number was said not to be assigned to any customer.

Benue state government laments attack

But the Benue state government in its reaction through the Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikur told Legit.ng that the chief security adviser to the governor has been alerted and action will be taken against the herdsmen.

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But speaking on the activities of herdsmen in the state, the CPS said:

“It’s unfortunate that herdsmen have been allowed to operate unhindered. The state government had severally alerted the federal government and the public about the incursion, but it seems nothing reasonably would be done about it.
“There seems to be no help coming from anywhere. The government appreciates the security agencies making effort, but it seems they have been overwhelmed at the moment.”

Owukpa leader, Abutu charges community

Meanwhile, Owukpa community leader, Chief Matthias Abutu has called on all to be security conscious and be ready to defend themselves while efforts are being made to draft security agencies to the area.

Abutu, in a statement, said:

“I urge all to be security conscious, but we should not take the laws into our hands. Ada'Ogbadibo is making efforts to draw the attention of the appropriate security agencies to come to Owukpa but we have to compliment their efforts even when they respond.”

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Okpokwu killing: I never backed herdsmen against my people, Senator Moro cries out

The senator representing Benue South senatorial district, Abba Moro, has described the attack on the Igama community, in Okpokwu LGA, which led to the killing of many as unacceptable.

Moro while calling on relevant security agencies to ensure that the killers and all those who had a hand in the attack are apprehended said the people of Benue state cannot continue to live at the mercy of these attackers.

Speaking during a visit to the displaced residents of the Okpokwu community temporarily camped at Ojapo, the lawmaker said nothing short of arrest and prosecution of the criminals who, according to him, have no value for human lives, would be accepted.

Source: Legit.ng

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