Rose Ejembi, MakurdI
At least four persons were allegedly killed in renewed clashes between Okpudu and Ollo communities of Okpowku Local Government Area of Benue State, reports claim.
However, the Benue State Police Command has said that nobody was killed in the crisis insisting also that normalcy had been restored to the areas.
Clashes between the two communities, our correspondent gathered, had been an age-long one with no end in sight despite several efforts by Idoma leaders to resolve the issues.
Our correspondent also gathered that the crisis began following a misunderstanding between some youths of the two communities which resulted in the abduction of two Okpudu youths by some Ollo youths on Sunday evening.
A source from the community who pleaded anonymity said at about 5 pm last Sunday, some Ollo youths who dressed in military uniforms and armed with guns stormed Okpudu community on motorcycles and ordered two youths of the community to follow them.
Our source noted that when the abducted Okpudu youths were still not seen 24 hours after, Okpudu youths mobilised and stormed Ollo community to demand their release.
However, in the ensuing fracas, four persons were reportedly killed with some others injured as sounds of gunshots resonated all around the community, a development which made members of the community to scamper for safety.
Our source disclosed that the Okpudu youths stormed Ollo community because a similar scenario happened a few years back when two youths of the community who were abducted by Ollo youths, were later killed and buried in a shallow grave.
However, a few hours after Okpudu youths stormed Ollo, it was gathered that the Okpudu youths who were earlier abducted on Sunday were released after they were thoroughly beaten with wounds all over their bodies.
At the time of filing this report, members of the two warring communities were said to be fleeing the area even as local vigilante have taken over major roads leading into and outside the two communities to forestall any form of reprisal.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Catherine Anene, who debunked claims of any killing in the fracas, said the problems started when family of a woman from one of the communities insisted that she must not marry from the other community but she went ahead and married there.
This, she said, angered her family who went to the other community and forcefully abducted some persons, a development which angered the other community.
“This other community from where those people were abducted also went and abducted people from the other community too. The police waded into the matter and all abducted persons have been released while normalcy has been restored to the two communities,” Anene said.