Akoh sues for peace as displaced residents of warring Benue communities return home after 6 months

Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Abuja | 19 March 2018 | 1,860 times

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The displaced people of Ogobia and Ondo communities of Ugboju District in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State, have returned to their ancestral homes, six months after a communal clash.

The two communities had been enmeshed in crises which had lasted for three years, in which over 100 persons lost their lives, property worth millions of naira were destroyed and over 1,000 people displaced.

In the recent attacks, a retired Army Major and erstwhile Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State, Lawrence Ugbor, was burnt alive in his 406 Peugeot 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. He said that 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.

Reacting to the development, the President of Dickson Akoh Foundation, Amb (Dr.) Dickson Akoh, appreciated the community for heeding to his entreaties that they should return home. He assured that his foundation would continue to liaise with the government to ensure that lasting peace, tranquility and decorum return to the communities.

Akoh, who is a holder of the traditional title of ‘Ogigo’mebe k’Ugboju’ (The Traditional Mirror of Ugboju District), enjoined the people of the community to shun further acts of violence, saying: “No community will develop or progress in an atmosphere of crisis.”

On the alleged illicit arrests of youth members, the National Commandant of the Peace Corps of Nigeria assured the youth that he would liaise with relevant authorities to ensure that they were released. He disclosed that he had met with Governor Samuel Ortom early hours of the day to discuss state of the communities with him.

While warning against reprisal attacks and malicious accusations against fellow brethren, Akoh, however, 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.”

Akoh, through his foundation, made cash donation and relief materials, which included food items, to the returnees, even as he promised to ensure that adequate security is provided as the people celebrate Eje Alekwu festival.

Source: News Express

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