Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
A suspected local militia leader popularly known as Alhaji Audu was on Sunday apprehended by troops of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) over an attack on three communities in Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State.
Audu, a native of Olegeje Community was nabbed with a loaded AK47 riffle with two magazines and 60 round of 7.62mm ammunitions during a communal clash involving Olegogboche, Adana and Olegeje communities.
Although some people believed that the attack may have been carried out by herdsmen, some of the locals from the affected communities insisted it had nothing to do with herdsmen but attributed the attack to communal clash in which mercenaries were brought in to fight in the communities.
Our correspondent gathered that Alhaji Audu led other members of his militia group to launch attack on Adana community which led to the death of two persons while others were injured.
One of the locals who gave his name as Edoh said the Sunday attack followed a land dispute among the three communities in which lives had been lost in the past.
He said that immediately the attention of troops of the OPWS stationed in Agatu was drawn to the attack, they wasted no time in mobilising to the affected communities.
“It was in that process that they stormed into a militia camp and apprehended one Alhaji Audu who was later identified as one of the leaders of the local militia who are spearheading the fight between the three communities,” Edoh said.
“We learnt that Egba and Adugbe communities were the ones that ganged up with hired mercenaries to attack Adana community and from there, they went to Olegeje and also attack there.
“Then when those who hired mercenaries to carry out the attacks were returning back to Aila village the troops of OPWS got wind of their evil mission and arrested all of them.
“Right now they have taken the military to where they keep their guns and they are mentioning more names of boys from Akwu village which is one of the villages that have been at the centre of crisis in Agatu. They are also mentioning names of those that played roles in the crisis.”
Our source revealed that the attackers stormed Adana community around 6am and thereafter moved to the two other communities where they equally attacked.
He noted that it was the timely intervention of soldiers of OPWS that saved the situation as the number of casualty would have been higher if the troops had not intervened.
“In fact the troops are everywhere in Agatu right now, searching the entire place and arresting the masterminds.
“The five persons that were arrested have been taken to Obagaji already. It is quite unfortunate and a sad experience,” Edoh said.
When contacted, Force Commander of OPWS, Maj. Gen. Adeyemi Yekini declined to comment on the Agatu attack saying only the Defense Head Quarters (DHQ) Information Department could make such confirmation.
However, confirming the attack, State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Catherine Anene disclosed that there was an attack in Agatu.
Anene said three corpses have been recovered so far in the attack but informed that policemen have been deployed to the area to maintain peace, law and order.
“Information was received on14/06/2020 at about 0530hrs that suspected herdsmen attacked Adama village, a riverine area in Agatu that is not motorable. A team of police officers have been deployed to the area. Three corpses confirmed so far.
“Further development will be communicated to you as soon as the team on ground starts sending reports,” Anene said.