Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Armed with the determination to end the spate of crime which has given the area a bad name, youths of Gbatse community in Ushongo Local Government area of Benue State on Sunday mobilized and went after three suspected armed robbers who dared to stage an operation in the area.
Recall that Gbatse community has been in the news for some days now following the discovery of mass graves where some kidnappers kill and bury their abducted victims after collecting ransom from their families.
The suspects whose names were given as Terkaa Jabi, alias Gajere, Terkimbir Iorbunde Ahungwaor, and Paul Mbailuior Damsa were apprehended by the local youths who later handed them over to police.
According to sources from the area, the three armed robbery suspects incurred the wrath of the community when they trailed a vehicle coming from Cross River and attacked the passengers early hours of Sunday close to the house of the District Head of Mbayegh, Chief Nathaniel Hoyo.
Our sources explained that Chief Hoyo, on getting the information, immediately called the police on phone and also mobilized youths to chase the attackers who ran into the hills in the surrounding area and hid in one of the caves.
It was gathered the police, on receiving the information, quickly dispatched a mobile police team and later the joint security outfit code-named ‘Operation Zenda’ who joined the youths to comb the hills and cave where they arrested the suspects.
It was further gathered that the arrest generated a spontaneous outrage from the community against the suspects as their attack came few days after the scandal of exhumed bodies of kidnap and robbery victims from the area which attracted the visit of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.
The angry mob were said to have stoned and dragged the suspected criminals along the road before the police took their bodies and paraded them at the Ushongo police station where a large crowd gathered.
Speaking on the matter, Ushongo Caretaker chairman, Bemsen Agugu, who also visited the police station commended the youths and community leaders from the area for rising up to the security challenge and assured of his council’s readiness to partner with communities to rid his local government of crime.
On his part, Mbayegh District Head, Chief Hoyo, appealed to youths in the area to desist from crime and engage in productive activities which he said God would bless and prosper rather than taking to crime which would lead them to untimely death similar to that of the suspects.
Also, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Catherine Anene, when contacted, said the operation was a continuation of efforts by the police to rid the area of criminal elements adding that the press would be appropriately briefed at the right time.