By Moses Uzer
The insecurity in Sankera intermediate area of Benue State is getting worse by the day. Sankera comprises Katsina-Ala, Logo and Ukum Local Government Areas.
The area has been under attacks by armed men, believed to be members of the dreaded gang of the late militia leader, Terwase Akwaza, alias Gana, who was killed by the military.
Since Gana was killed, the people of Sankera have not known peace. The area is totally under siege, a situation that prompted the state government to impose curfew, and ban movement of motorcycles in some local government areas of the entity.
To the people of Sankera, the ban on motorcycles is causing untold hardship to them. But to government, it is an urgent security measure to avert or totally end the surging criminality.
Although more security agents were deployed to the area to quel further attacks, tragedy has continued to visit the people of Sankera.
Several attacks have occurred. The most recent happened barely a week ago, precisely Friday, 5th February, 2021, when unknown gunmen stormed the Utange and Mbayongo communities in Shitile, Katsina Ala Local Government Area, and killed twelve persons. Several houses were set ablaze in the process.
The assailants invaded the Vingir village of Mbayongo council ward and murdered several persons who were siblings. Community sources identified those who were killed as Dr. Dominic Achir Apesughur, Levi Orkeen Apesughur, Tarker Apesughur, Zungwenen Apesughur, Imoter Apesughur, Mguember Apesughur, Mgunengen Apesughur and Kadoon Apesughur. Others were Kumaor Aondover, Aondodue Emmanuel Luse and Abel Iorpav.
Three of the deceased persons were brothers of the PDP chairman of Katsina-Ala Local Government, Hon. Alfred Iorpav. The family house of the party chairman was also razed, same as those of his relatives. Maternal uncle to the Executive Chairman of Katsina-Ala LGA, was equally attacked and killed on the spot while his house was burnt.
Also, during the attack, the residence of the council secretary of Katsina-Ala council, Hon. Robert Angir was destroyed. Farm produce such as yam tubers, guinea corn, cassava and rice were burnt in the process.
Mr. Isaac Apesughur,a legislative aide to Senator Gabriel T. Suswam, lost five of his brothers and three sisters during the attack. He narrated the incident to our coreespondent.
Apesughur described the attack as politically motivated and appealed for peace while calling on government to deploy more security personnel to the area to safeguard lives and property.
The council secretary of Katsina-Ala Local Government Area, Hon. Robert Angir whose house was completely burnt, said in an interview that the attack was perpetrated by armed youths. He however, advised them to surrender their arms to pave way for peace and give socio-economic development a chance to thrive.
“Looking at the level of under-development in our society, it’s advisable for the youths to surrender their arms and embrace peace so that normalcy will be restored to boost economic activities and retain the good image of our dear Shitile and Katsina-Ala at large”, he said.
It will be recalled that on the eve of Christmas in 2020, unknown gunmen, dressed in military uniform had attacked the Katsina-Ala residence of Hon. Atera A. Alfred, the council chairman of Katsina-Ala local government and murdered five persons, including three policemen. The gunmen had escaped using Bajaj motorcycles.
Quickly, the Executive Governor of Benue state, Samuel Ortom through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Terver Akase had condemned the assassination attempt on Hon. Atera and called on security agents to arrest the attackers and bring them to book.
Also, the Benue State Security Council had met and banned the use of motorcycles in two local governments in Sankara, namely Katsina-Ala and Ukum, and further imposed dusk to down curfew in the two local governments to maintain law and order in the area.
At the moment, the killings in Sankera have persisted despite heavy presence of men of the relevant security agencies. Whether the attacks will end soon or not, time shall tell.