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Sunday, 18 March 2018

Displaced Benue communities in Ugboju return home 6 months after clash

Displaced persons of Ogobia and Ondo communities of Ugboju district in Otukpo local government of Benue State have returned to their ancestral homes, six months after a communal clash.

The two communities had been enmeshed with crises which had lasted for three years, where over 100 persons had lost their lives, with property worth millions of naira destroyed and over 1000 people displaced.

In the recent attacks, a retired Army major and esthwhile Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State, Lawrence Ugbor was burnt alive in his Peugeot 406 car while a retired Police officer and many others were also killed.

Elder Okopi Odah, the Village Head of Ondo community and the Youth leader, Enokela Agba, told a gathering at the weekend that, the people had no other place to call their home, since the government did not provide any camp for the displaced persons, they had been living at the mercy of friends and relatives in the neighbouring communities.

“Since the Eje Alekwu of Ugboju (the cultural festival of Ugboju people) is this weekend, we can’t afford to celebrate it elsewhere, other than our ancestral home, we have no option than to return home,” Mr. Odah told his visitors.

He, however, lamented the recent arrests of over five youths from the community whom he said have been languishing in police net without prosecution or bail.

Responding, the visitors led by Amb (Dr.) Dickson Akoh, appreciated the community for heeding entreaties that they should return home, and enjoined the people of the community to shun further act of violence, saying “no community will develop or progress in an atmosphere of crisis”.

On the alleged illicit arrests of youth members, Dickson, who is the National Commandant of Peace Corps of Nigeria, assured that he would liaise with relevant authorities to ensure that they were released, adding that he had earlier met with Governor Samuel Ortom to discuss the state of the communities with him.

While warning against reprisal attacks and malicious accusations against fellow brethren, Akoh said, “in a case where it is established that anyone is linked to the killing of the deceased, the law shall be allowed to take its course”.

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