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Scores killed, markets, vehicles burnt, as gunmen run riot in Benue, Imo communities

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Benue and Imo were again theatres of bloody attacks on Friday, with the former badly hit, as the gunmen who stormed parts of the state, were said to have left no less than 27 dead persons dead and several others injured by the time they left the scene.

Reports say some heavily armed men, suspected to be enforcing the stay-at-home order, stormed Amaraku market located at Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of Imo state, while another group, whose motive remained unknown, attacked Adogo Ugbaam, Akpuuna and Diom communities in Ukum Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue state, both on Friday.

Though it was said no casualty was recorded in the Imo attack, the victims of the other attack were not so lucky, as trails of blood was left behind by the gunmen, who apart from killing scores of persons, left may others with several forms of injuries, some of them said to be life-threatening.

First, the gunmen were said to have stormed the venur of a funeral at Adogo Ugbaam community where they killed three mourners on Friday night and on Saturday morning at about 11 am another gang invaded Akpuuna and Diom communities where 24 persons were murdered.

Reports quoted sources as saying the armed men whose motive was not known, stormed the villages on motorbikes killing the three mourners at Adogo Ugbaam village at about 9 pm after which they invaded Akpuuna and Diom on Saturday morning at about 11 am when the local market in the area was busy with the day’s activities.

“Nobody saw this coming; the armed men stormed Diom and Akpuuna on motorbikes at about 11 am when the local market in the community had picked up with activities after killing three mourners at Adogo Ugbaam village last night (Friday) at about 9 pm.

“At Akpuuna and Diom they shot at anybody they saw, mercilessly killing the people in the market and the two neighbouring villages. There was pandemonium, people ran for their lives but many could not escape. Apart from those killed, many are still missing; and from all indications that number will rise. After killing the people and injuring many, the armed men set fire on people’s property and fled the scene.

“As we speak people are fleeing the attacked communities but the search for missing persons is ongoing. It is a sad day for our people,” the source said about the incident, confirmed by Chairman of Ukum LGA, Kartyo Tyoumbur, who said information at his disposal indicated that 24 bodies had been recovered from the two attacked villages.

His words: “I learnt that after attacking Akpuuna and Diom, the armed gang fled the scene but on getting to the Tine-Nune community on the Zaki Biam-Wukari Road they met the military who confronted them. Though no one knows how many of them were killed but I believe some of them must have been neutralised in that exchange. No one knows the motive of the attackers.”

Spokesman of the Benue State Police Command, Catherine Anene, a Superintendent of Police (SP) while confirming the incident, said in a statement: “At about 12 pm, a militia gang invaded Akpuna village, Ukum LGA of Benue state and were shooting sporadically. Upon receipt of this information, police teams in collaboration with other security agencies rushed to the area and engaged these bandits who were eventually repelled. Eight corpses were recovered at the scene while many other injured persons were taken to hospital for treatment. Operation is ongoing in the area.”

In Imo, where the hoodlums were said to have burnt a tricycle and some vehicles, while destroying some goods at the market, an eyewitness was quoted as saying that they started shooting sporadically in different directions as residents and other people fled the scene.

“The gunmen were angry with the traders and transporters for flouting the order. The attackers warned traders to close shop and never to flout the order, warning them not come out on Saturday. They went on to raze part of the market and burnt vehicles,” the source reportedly said.

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Imo massacre: Armoured vehicles procured for police used to rig elections – LP

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Labour Party, palpably in anguish at the slaughter of eight soldiers in Imo State on Tuesday by some rampaging gunmen, has raised questions over the whereabouts of the nine Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) Athan Achonu, it claimed its governorship candidate for the November 11 election, repaired and donated to the authorities in the state.

The party, all but called out the leadership of the Imo State Police Command, to whom they claimed the equipment were handed over, alleging that the last time they APCs were seen was during the last general elections, where they were used by members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party in power in the state to snatch ballot boxes for candidates in the national and state assemblies.

The claim, was made when Nick Opara-Ndudu  and Nnaemeka Onyeka Obiareri , chieftains of the party appeared as guests on The Morning Show, a breakfast programme on Arise Television to sell the candidacy of Achonu, whom they said would never have allowed the type of insecurity in the state to endure under his watch.

Both men, who said that Achonu, whose highest political office so far, was his short stint in the Senate, where he served via the 2015 election before he was removed through the courts, remained the only solution not to the insecurity, in the state and even the South East,  but the one to rescue the people from years of underdevelopment from poor leadership.

Obiareri, spokesman of the LP in the state, argued that if the APCs had been in place, Tuesday’s incident in which the military men were killed alongside some policemen and officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), would probably not have happened, said a check on the social media would reveal how they were used by party men of the APC for rigging the 2023 general elections.

He said: “The military men that were killed if they had armoured vehicles patrolling, they wouldn’t have been shot by those criminals. Athan Achonu, go and confirm from Innoson, paid hundreds of millions of naira to Innoson, Innoson is still alive, you people can still go and interview him, to repair nine armoured vehicles for the police. Five were supposed to be in Okigwe zone. Till today, we don’t know where those nine armoured cars are.

“If you go to Youtube, you’ll see Youtube record of members of the House of Assembly in Imo State using those APCs to carry ballot boxes. It’s there on Youtube, you can search it out. What Athan Achonu will do is very simple. Every local government area will have one humvy vehicle for the police. Police stations had been totally burnt in Imo State and Athan repaired most of those police stations.

“Then, there will be community vigilante. We’ll train those 50 youths per community – train them, equip them and arm them. They should guard their communities. When you have over 50,000 hectres of land, reclaimed from the bandits, and you have youths who are not only just farming, but who are trained to protect their communities, they’ll do the job.

“Then, we have to set up a security trust fund. Ndi-Imo are not scared. As at today, there are some communities in Imo State, where bandits – unknown gunmen, are ransacking and collecting levies from the communities. Basically, Athan Achonu will provide training, recruitment for people donated by the communities. Communities know those who are the terrible ones in their midst. And I tell you, in six months, they will flush them out.”

Opara-Ndudu, who dismissed the claim by the state governor, Hope Uzodimma that the carnage and other killings in the state were politically-motivated, blamed the governor for misplacing his priorities and failing to provide jobs for the teeming youth population in the state, questioning why nobody had been arrested and prosecuted fully in the courts if the insecurity in the state was all about politics.

Hear him: “The security problem has to do with objective conditions in the state. The young people are frustrated. The government is not making any investments in the areas that are required. We’re busy pursuing projects that are designs in deception. Look at the roads that are being done in Imo State, you know for you to deal with the problem of poverty and other economic challenges, you have to deal with the problem of infrastructure.

“In Imo State, the government has dedicated all of its time and half of its time to reconstructing federal roads without any attention – little or no attention paid to the rural areas. If you go to length and breadth of Imo State – Ngor Okpala, Ezinifte Mbaise, even in the governor’s local government – everywhere in Imo State, you find that the rural areas are looking desolate and abandoned.”

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Police find body of missing female student dumped in the bush, vow to get killers

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Operatives of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), command, have vowed to fish out the killers of a university student, Blessing Karami, whose body was said to have been picked up from the bush days after she was declared missing on September 11.

The FCT police, which released the painful news on Thursday, said in a statement by its spokesman, Josephine Adeh that the remains were found in the woods in the Karimu area of the city.

The police spokesman acknowledged that her disappearance was reported to the police authorities last,  Thursday, September 14 added that 26-year-old Blessing, a student of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), was declared missing after leaving her place of work in Garki, Abuja.

She said in the statement: “The body of Blessing Karami Moses, a 26-year-old woman who had been missing since September 11, 2023, was tragically discovered in a wooded area in Karimo. Her disappearance was reported to the authorities on September 14, 2023,” the statement read.

She said Commissioner of Police, FCT, Haruna Garba, had directed that command should conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident, adding: “While we are working closely with the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) to facilitate the respectful retrieval of the decomposed remains acknowledging the sensitive nature of this task, we will continue to provide updates to the public as our investigation progresses.”

Adeh, a Superintendent of Police (SP), also commiserated with Blessing’s family and loved ones over the incident.

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Ogun cult massacre: DSS raid home, pick up PDP lawmaker, five others

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Damilare Bello Mohammed, a serving member of the Ogun State House of Assembly (OGHA), is currently telling operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) his side of the story, after he was picked up over his alleged involvement in the rival secret cult clashes that occurred in Sagamu town.

Mohammed, recently elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to represent Sagamu State Constituency 1, was picked up on Wednesday by the agency over the incident in which at least eight persons were killed last weekend during the violent clash in the town, alongside five other suspected cultists allegedly involved in the cult violence.

The five other suspects; Debbo Animashaun, Bamidele Saheed, Ismaila Onitire, Adewale Otesanya and Tobi Owoade, were arrested by the DSS operatives during a sting operation after a tip-off at the early hours of Thursday within the residence of the lawmaker.

Lekan Adeniran, spokesman to Dapo Abiodun, the Ogun State governor, announced the development in a statement on Wednesday, saying the secret police tracked the six suspected cultists to the official residence of the lawmaker.

Accusing the lawmaker of providing shelter to the cultists, Adeniran, said in the statement, that the suspects were presently undergoing interrogation in DSS custody after many dangerous weapons, including guns, were recovered from them.

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