Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Many residents of Tyomu community in Fidi ward of Makurdi Local Government Area of Benue State are fleeing the community following violent clash among the villagers which resulted in burning of several houses on Wednesday night.
The crisis, it was gathered, started some years back as a result of struggle for ownership of land between the indigenes, Iharev and the settlers Iparev.
But sources said tension began to build among the two warring brothers few days to Christmas in at least five settlements of the community including; Yogbo, Akile, Gagabe, Angbaye and Tyomu situated on KM 16, along Makurdi-Gboko road and culminated in burning of houses on Wednesday evening.
“It was about land, revenue remittance and disagreement between indigenes-settlers. On Wednesday, both sides of the divide, took laws into their hands and started setting houses ablaze,” a witness, who simply gave his name as Solomon told newsmen.
Secretary to the Benue State Government (SSG), Professor Anthony Ijohor, who visited the area for an on-the-spot assessment, regretted the level of destruction and described the crisis as unexpected and an embarrassment to state government.
“This is something unexpected and we as a government feel very embarrassed for brothers who have lived together for over 60 years to engaged themselves in such massive destruction.
“The level of destruction is massive. Imagine brothers who have lived together for over 60 years engaging in this kind of destruction. Though there was no lose of life. We will bring the full might of the State and security apparatus to ensure that the culprits are brought to book.
“The crisis has to do basically with land. When you talk about land, you also, talk of urbanization. It is an issue of indigene/settlers. I came here to have a first hand information about the crisis so that we would know what action to take as a government. I want to urge the people to exercise restraint and not to embark on any reprisal attack.”
The SSG however warned trouble makers to restrain from embarking on revenge mission as government would do everything within its powers to look into the matter for peace to reign in the community.
Also speaking, District head of the area, Chief Peter Akaa, told the SSG that after making several failed effort to resolve the matter, he reported the situation to authorities above him for prompt solution.
On his part, the lawmaker representing the affected area of Makurdi-South, Terwase Aondoakaa, said the crisis started festering in December, last year and that the police waded in to the extent that all the parties concerned signed an agreement which some people however failed to obey afterwards.
Aondoakaa stated that by the earlier peace accord, nobody was expected to go to the river bank and mould blocks as the bone of contention was connected with revenue remittance sourced from block moulding.
Daily Sun observed that at the time of sending this report, there were many security operatives on ground in the area to surveillance even as some fleeing residents were seen moving their property away with vehicles.