Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Over 300 Persons Missing ~ Agatu LG Boss

Communal clashes in some communities in Benue State have led to over 300 persons reportedly missing in Agatu, Sunday Tribune has learnt.

It was gathered that communal clashes between Egba and Ochologba communities in the area, which have lasted for years, have led to the reported mysterious disappearance of hundreds of people in the last nine years.

The sole administrator of Agatu Local Government, Mr Mike Inalegwu, while speaking with Sunday Tribune, confirmed that another farmer, 57-year-old  Usman Audu, was kidnapped early Friday morning in his farm by people suspected to be from one of the warring communities.

Expatiating, Inalegwu said none of the 300 persons, who mysteriously disappeared from both communities in the past nine years, were, either found dead or alive.

According to the council boss, the alleged abduction of the 57-year-old farmer underlined the age-long rivalry between the Egba and Ochologba communities over a fishing pond.

“As a result of this, each time someone got missing from any of the two communities, there is usually suspicion between the two communities,” Inalegwu explained.

“Anytime someone in Egba community is missing, the Ochologba people are accused of being responsible for the kidnapping and when it happens in Ochologba, Egba people are the suspect. Unfortunately, none of the missing ones has been found dead or alive.

“In fact, since the dispute started nine years ago, over 300 persons had been declared missing and none of the people have been found, dead or alive. This ugly incident happens every year and no fewer than 30 persons are reported  missing every year in the two communities,” Inalegwu stated, adding that policemen had been deployed in the affected communities from Otukpo Area command due to the renewed skirmishes, which led to the kidnap of Audu on Friday.

Son of the abducted man, John, who spoke to Sunday Tribune by phone, said he was abducted from his farm between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Friday and that efforts to locate his whereabouts were unsuccessful.

Confirming the dispute between the two communities, the state’s Commissioner of Police, Mr Bashir Makama said: “There have been problems between the  two communities over a fishing  pond in Agatu in the past two weeks and we have  deployed our men to the area to beef up security.”

When asked about the abduction of Usman, the police boss confirmed, “I do not know whether the person was kidnapped from his farm or not, but the point is that there has been a dispute between the two communities in that area.”

On the alleged 300 persons missing in the past nine years from the two warring communities, the CP said he was not aware of that but asked rhetorically, “is it their culture to engage in such?”


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