From Scholastica Hir, Makurdi

The Egba community in Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State have petitioned the Benue State Governor, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia to come to their aid over the constant molestation and killings of their children by their Ologba neighbours.

The Egba people have also called on the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon Aondona Dajoh, the Och’Idoma, Agaba-Idu, John Odogbo and other people of goodwill to prevail on Ologba people to remove all wooden blocks and disarm their armed youths allegedly stationed at the major road linking the two communities.

They alleged that the barricades placed by the Ologba people have prevented their Egba people access to social and business activities with their neighbours, particularly Obagaji, the local government headquarters.

The Egba and Ologba people have been entangled in a war prolonged over the ownership of a fish pond for several decades.

However, what triggered the above call is the cold-blooded murder of an Egba youth, Ohili Angela, allegedly by Ologba youths when he was returning from Obagaji market with his wife on May 1, 2024.

Speaking to newsmen in Makurdi, on Monday, a community leader from Egba, Mr Clement Oyaje, said the Ologba youths who attacked and killed Ohili also inflicted wounds on several Egba indigenes and burnt 10 of their motorcycles and took 15 away.

Oyaje said Ohili and others were being escorted by an army lieutenant from Obagaji at the behest of the local government caretaker chairman, Hon Benjamin Ochepo before he was killed.

According to Oyaje, at the point of crossing Ohili and the others at the wooden barriers, Ologba youths who were allegedly armed with machetes and other dangerous weapons intercepted the process and started manhandling Ohili and macheted him to death.

Other indigenes of Egba who were caught up in the incident and sustained wounds from machete cuts according to Oyaje, included Ochefije Ochokwunu, Adoga Ankeli and Adija Ibrahim.

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Oyaje said the Divisional Police Officer, DPO of Agatu LGA had to personally intervene before the corpse of Angela which was earlier taken to Obagaji by the military was moved to Egba for burial.

The Egba community leader lamented over the manner his people are being suppressed in Agatu even though they are the first to settle in Agatu.

“We are being treated like slaves in Agatu even though we are the first to settle there. They said they would continue to kill us until we are completely exterminated.

“Up till today, the road is still blocked. We don’t have any link to the local government headquarters. They said anybody from Egba who attempts to cross the road will be a dead person.

“Buying and selling have collapsed, there’s nothing like buying and selling. We’re inside a cage, with no movement. We cannot go to Ayila, we cannot go to Ogbaulu, or to Obagaji.

“We are inside a cage. Even farm, we don’t even have access to our farm. As we speak, they are warming up to attack our community.

Oyaje traced the conflict between Egba and Ologba to 1972 when a Makurdi Upper Area Court sitting in Otukpo, passed judgment in favour of Egba as the rightful owners of the disputed fish pond. The judgment, he said was not appealed.

“The court passed judgement in favour of Egba and fixed the boundary between Egba and Ologba at Idogo stream and said any economic tree that falls at Idogo East belongs to Egba and anyone that falls at Idogo West belongs to Ologba. The Ologba people did not appeal the judgment,” he said.

“Even though there was no appeal against the 1972 judgement, Oyaje said the Ologba people, however, approached the Apa/Agatu traditional council, Idoma Area Traditional Council and the Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs for them to stand down the judgment of the court but to no avail.

He accused Ologba people of masterminding militia killings in Egba, particularly the 2015 killings which claimed the life of 86 Egba people in one day saying they are worried that the killings will continue if the government do not intervene.