By Uzer Moses
Unknown gunmen attacked St Augustine Aye Twar Parish, Agu Centre, Katsina-Ala Diocese in the early hours of Tuesday and killed an Assistant Priest, in charge of the Parish, Rev. Fr Ferdinand Ngugban.
The tragedy occurred during Easter Conference when thousands of faithfuls gathered to prepare for baptism, strengthen their spirituality and other religious activities associated with Easter period as a tradition.
The attackers who came in large numbers also burnt other houses in the area and injured several others.
Reasons for the dreaded attack on Christians is yet to be ascertained but Sankera axis has been experiencing internal crisis on daily bases.
In our interaction with one of the survivors who pleaded anonymity, he said there was handwriting on the wall, warning the priests to settle “them,” else there would be no Easter celebration for them.
Efforts to reach the Vical General, Katsina-Ala Diocese, Rev. Fr Dr Godwin Bagu proved abortive as his phone numbers were all switched off as at time of filing this report.
Meanwhile, in a close door meeting held in Katsina-Ala Tuesday, the Bishop of Gboko Diocese and Apostolic Administrator, Cede Vacante, Katsina-Ala Diocese, His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr William Avenya, vowed to close down all parishes and worship centres in the Shitile axis of Katsina-Ala local government.
It could be recalled that Monday, armed militias attacked Tor-Donga market in Shitile, Katsina-Ala local government and killed 6 marketers, injured many and set three cars on fire, including yam and market sheds.
Also last week, an Associate Professor, Dr Udoo Angou was assassinated alongside his wife when the couple visited their ancestral home at Tor Donga in Katsina-Ala Local Government.
In order to restore peace in Sankara geo-political axis, the Benue state government has banned the use of all forms of motorcycles and Toyota Corolla, popularly known as “Duck Nyash” in the area. A dusk to down curfew has also been imposed between the hours of 6:00p.m to 6:00a.m. However, notorious criminals have continued to carry out killings, kidnapping, burning and other social vices have continued to occur in the area.
In Katsina-Ala local government, the security challenges have affected socio-economic development of the area. Markets are no longer holding as it used to for the fear of being attacked or killed.
In a security meeting held recently in Katsina-Ala, the Benue State Police Commissioner, CP Audu Madaki, directed that a list of market days in Katsina-Ala local government be prepared and given to him, so that police would be patrolling the markets to avoid attacks by criminals.
The Voice, however, learnt that the markets have since not been patrolled.
The area is becoming deserted, as constantly, marketers, businessmen and women are relocating to other places in search of greener pasture.
With the diversification of attacks to the church and worship places now, it appears the people of the area have no hope but with God, all things are possible.