From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
There was pandemonium at the border communities of Ibilla and Ukpa in Oju Local Government Area of Benue State following the visit of the National Population Commission (NPC) to the area.
Our correspondent gathered that NPC officials had arrived in the area to carry out a delineation exercise when some members of the two communities took up arms against each other and started shooting randomly.
Soon, many shops and some residential buildings were in flames, with people reportedly injured in the melee. The NPC officials were however said to have narrowly escaped from the mayhem unhurt.
A reliable source disclosed that the NPC officials were on a visit to the area for a delineation exercise in preparation for enumeration.
The two communities have reportedly been at loggerheads for many years over a land dispute despite several efforts to resolve the matter.
It was learned that based on the suspicion that a senior official of the NPC who is from one of the communities was among the visiting team, the other community thought that the member could use her position to influence boundary adjustment in favour of her community.
‘Before you knew it, a crisis erupted between the two communities leading to burning down of houses,’ our source said.
‘The people shot at one another on Friday but there is no death, they only injured themselves.’
When contacted, police spokeswoman DSP Catherine Anene confirmed that houses were burnt during the incident but that there were no records of death.
‘The National Population Commission (members) went there (the border communities) for one of their activities and they had not even started when the people started complaining and making trouble that they want to take their land,’ she stated.
‘I learnt that somebody in one of the communities was part of the team, that was their suspicion that the Commission wanted to take their land and they started fighting without knowing the facts.’
The police spokeswoman disclosed that the Command had deployed more policemen to the troubled communities to maintain peace.