15 How death of mas­quer­ade ig­nited vi­o­lence in Kogi

Weekly Trust - - News - Itodo Daniel Sule, Lokoja

On Sun­day, April 22, res­i­dents of Kpanche, the peace­ful Bassa Kwomus agrar­ian com­mu­nity in Bassa Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of Kogi State, woke up to sounds of spo­radic gun­shots and burn­ing of houses by hood­lums al­leged to have come from the Ig­burra Mozum eth­nic group. learnt that the over 20 gun­men in­vaded the com­mu­nity, killed res­i­dents and burned houses and other valu­ables.

Ac­cord­ing to res­i­dents, seven peo­ple were killed while se­cu­rity agen­cies re­sponded promptly and killed six of the at­tack­ers.

The vi­o­lence was said to have spread to neigh­bour­ing vil­lages of Biroko and Ozugbe. Many res­i­dents of Kpanche and ad­join­ing vil­lages fled their homes.

The Chief of Kpanche, Jonathan Sha­bani, who nar­rowly es­caped death dur­ing the at­tack, said he could iden­tify some of the at­tack­ers. “I know them, they live in my com­mu­nity here,” he said. A res­i­dent, Sunny Joe, said, “Be­fore I could come out of my house, they had started burn­ing houses, my fa­ther was burnt in his house be­cause he couldn’t es­cape.”

An­other res­i­dent, Ru­muji Paul, said he es­caped nar­rowly, adding that some el­derly peo­ple and youths who could not es­cape were killed.

The Kogi State Po­lice Com­mand in a state­ment is­sued by its spokesman, ASP Wil­liam Aya, said five per­sons were killed in the at­tack while 15 houses were burnt.

“Con­se­quent upon the news, the Mo­bile Po­lice Force as well as the Nige­rian Army promptly moved to the scene to re­store peace and or­der. On sight­ing the se­cu­rity per­son­nel, they opened fire at them, but it was ve­he­mently re­sisted by the fire power of the se­cu­rity per­son­nel. Six of the at­tack­ers were killed while two AK 47 ri­fles, one LA and 1 sin­gle bar­rel gun were re­cov­ered from them,” Aya said in the state­ment.

He said the com­mis­sioner of po­lice had or­dered a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent and vowed to pros­e­cute any­one linked to the at­tacks no mat­ter how highly placed to serve as de­ter­rent.

The vi­o­lence is be­lieved to be a reprisal over a clash be­tween the Bassa Kwomus and Ig­burra Mozums some­time in 2016. The al­leged killing of a Bassa Kwomu mas­quer­ade called ‘Genge’ by the Ig­burra Mozums caused the 2016 vi­o­lence.

The ad­min­is­tra­tor of Bassa Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area, Sa­muel Zakari Alumka, while ex­plain­ing the re­mote cause of the cri­sis, said, “There was a clash be­tween the mas­quer­ade and some peo­ple in which a mas­quer­ade was at­tacked and killed.

“That in­ci­dent gen­er­ated a lot of fight then and through the ef­forts of Gov­er­nor Ya­haya Bello, calm was re­stored. Prior to this in­ci­dent, there were no com­plaints from any­where only for some a few in­di­vid­u­als to pounce on a com­mu­nity call Kpanche and started burn­ing houses and killing peo­ple.

“Most of the peo­ple whose houses were burnt are Bassa Kwomus. So what war­ranted the at­tacks? The at­tack in Bassa was not about Fu­lani herds­men. The cri­sis was be­tween Bassa Kwomus and Ig­burra Mozums.”

Fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent, the Kogi State Po­lice Com­mis­sioner, Ali Janga, along­side the ad­min­is­tra­tor of Bassa LGA vis­ited the com­mu­nity to as­cer­tain the level of de­struc­tion.

Mean­while, Gov­er­nor Ya­haya Bello has en­sured the sign­ing of a bond on sus­tain­able peace in Bassa by the Aguma of Bassa, Wil­liam Jimba Keke and the Ohi­agba of Mozum, Al­haji Khalid Bukar.

The sign­ing of the bond which took place at the Min­istry of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment and Chief­taincy Af­fairs in Lokoja, was su­per­vised on be­half of the gov­er­nor by the Spe­cial Ad­viser in the Min­istry of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment and Chief­taincy Af­fairs, Engr Abubakar Sadiku Ohere.

A closed-door meet­ing to prof­fer last­ing so­lu­tion to the cri­sis was held in the min­istry.

The meet­ing had in at­ten­dance Engr. Ohere, the Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice, the Spe­cial Ad­viser on Se­cu­rity, Re­tired Navy Com­man­der Jerry Omodara, tra­di­tional rulers and other stake­hold­ers.

Ohere warned that any tra­di­tional ruler in Bassa who al­lows his subjects to take fresh arms to dis­rupt the peace of the land would be made to face the full weight of the law.

He noted that gov­ern­ment would set up a panel of in­quiry into the cri­sis.

A build­ing razed dur­ing the at­tack on Kpanche com­mu­nity in Bassa LGA of Kogi State

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