The death toll in the ongoing gang war in Benue State has risen to 25, as three more persons were reportedly killed in the Ayati community of Ukum Local Government Area.
The conflict began over the weekend, with at least 22 fatalities reported in Chito and Tyo Akosu communities of Ukum LGA. The violence erupted during a brutal clash between two rival criminal gangs, known as the “Chain Gang” and “Full Fire” groups.
Reports suggest that the fighting, which began over the weekend, spilled into the Ayati community on Sunday evening, resulting in three more suspected gang members losing their lives.
An anonymous source in the area told newsmen: “We learnt that the attack in Ayati at a gathering that claimed three lives on Sunday evening was an extension of the fight that started at the weekend in Chito and Tyo Akosu. The fact is that no one knows who is what anymore among our youths. And we cannot tell who is sympathetic to any group and who is not. That is why the fight is getting messier and they are killing human beings as if they were animals.”
Ezra Nyiyongo, the legislator representing Ukum State Constituency in the State House of Assembly, has responded to the bloodbath by urging the state government to intensify strategies to address the crisis.
“You are aware when the serving Commissioner for Information, Matthew Aboh, was picked (abducted). One of our elder statesmen was picked and he later died in their hands. So, we have been having these recurrences. You will hear that today 24 people were killed, other times 11, and it keeps on happening every other day,” he said.
He further told newsmen: “We as a government need to step up our strategy. I am particularly pained, and I believe the government is looking at it critically. As a legislator, I have reported it to my Speaker and we will take it up with the Governor. I believe we will make headway sooner or later. I believe the governor, during our electioneering campaigns, promised to do everything to bring peace, even if it meant bringing the carrot approach to the so-called boys in the bush.”
He added: “Sometimes, I am ashamed because if it were external aggressors that were attacking us, then you could say there is a breakdown of law and order but here we have a case whereby the same brothers from the same mother and father are pointing guns at each other. Who is going to report who? This is the situation I am facing. It is devastating. It is terrible.”