No fewer than 60 persons were feared killed at the weekend in a bloody communal crisis between Ologba and Egba communities of Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the latest crisis which left many with varying degrees of injury was a fallout of a lingering dispute between the fishing communities over the ownership of a fishing pond in the area.
The latest crisis between the sister villages came on the heels of last month’s outrageous conflict in Egba community which claimed close to 100 lives when suspected Fulani herdsmen invaded the community.
According to our source, “the truth is that there is no love lost between the two communities whose preoccupation is mainly fishing.
“Unfortunately, the bitter rivalry between the communities and bottled-up anger for one another has lingered for several years and sometimes resulting in intermittent skirmishes; this latest conflict could have claimed over 60 lives because more bodies are still being recovered from the two communities.
“As I speak to you today, (Saturday) the Egba people attacked Ologba during a funeral procession early this morning, after the Friday attack, just when the people were trying to bury their dead. So many people were killed in that attack and more bodies are still being recovered from the scene so we expect the causality figure to rise.”
Speaking on the matter, Sir John Ngbede, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, deputy governorship candidate at the last elections, who hails from the area, said the communities have been embroiled in long standing issues.
Ngbede also confirmed that the crisis which started Friday evening had displaced so any persons who now live as refugees at Obagaji, the Agatu Local Government Area Headquarters.
When contacted, the Benue State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hyacinth Dagala, explained that the villagers had been fighting over a fish pond for some time.
Dagala, however, pointed out that the latest crisis allegedly broke out as a result of deep rooted suspicion by the Egba community on allegations that the Ologba people had organised last month’s deadly Fulani invasion against them.
He said the Police had so far recorded 23 deaths but added that he was yet to update the figures and the report as at press time.
The Police Commissioner however assured that security had been beefed up in the feuding communities adding that investigations into the matter had also commenced.