Protests, Tension In Makurdi Over Killing Of Priests, Worshippers
From Msughshima Andrew, Makurdi
The killings of two Catholic Priests and 17 worshippers in Ayar Mablom community of Gwer East LGA of Benue State, has sparked up tensions across the state particularly in Makurdi, the State Capital.
Our correspondent observed that both government offices and business premises came to an abrupt closure as the remains of the slain victims were brought into the town and deposited at the Bishop Murray Memorial Hospital Mortuary, Makurdi.
While the Corpses were being driven to town, irrate youth took over the major roads and streets including the ever busy Makurdi/Gboko, Makurdi/Lafia road and the Wurukum Roundabout. The protests later spread to the famous George Akume road where angry youths took to the roads after being a dispersed by the police at Wurukum roundabout.
The irate youths also set bonfires in and across the major streets in Makurdi metropolis.
As at the time of filing this report, all the major markets including Makurdi Modern Market, Wurukum market, Wadata market and High Level market as well as commercial banks and schools were all shut down.
For schools, most parents panicked as they were called to rush to their schools to pick up their children and wards for safety.
Though adequate security has been beefed up in and around the state capital, residents are still entertaining fears and panicking from fear of further attacks and have called on security agencies and state government to rise up to their responsibility to protect lives and property of the people.
Confirming the incident, Commissioner of Police, Benue state command, CP Fatai Owoseni said that some armed bandits suspected to be Fulani Herdsmen numbering about 30 attacked a church killing two priests and 16 others.
“Immediately we got this information, We quickly moved in there to do a wider aerial surveillance in pursuit of these attackers to see if we can see them.
It is a large portion of forest and after doing a wider coverage of the general area, we also went to the church where this incident happened. That was where we were told on the spot that these attackers came by 5am.
We went into the church and to the venue of a burial that was going on where the priest was supposed to officiate.
“These attackers came about 30 in number and the target was the priest and of course, the venue of the burial. As at the time l left the place, we were able to see 16 dead bodies including the two priests that were killed.
The police has taken over the corpses and we have deployed and with the wider aerial surveillance we did, with the help of the people in the village, we were able to get into the bush to see if we can still lay hands on these people.
“We will intensify our search to go after these people wherever they may hide. We will also work on the information from the members of public there because we believe that they must have been hanging around the place to have committed that act at 5am. So, we still believe that they would be somewhere around there”.
Owoseni who described them as armed marauders who are going about killing people vowed to go after them with all the resources available to him.