By Seriki Adinoyi, Sheriff Balogun and Segun James
It was a day of multiple tragedies Thursday as several bloody incidents were recorded in Plateau, Ogun and Bayelsa States. Starting from Jos, Plateau State where violence erupted again resulting in the killing of 15 persons, to Sagamu, Ogun State, where robbers raided several banks with impunity and killed a dozen persons, down to Bayelsa State where fire razed the oil facility of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
In the Jos incident, the fragile peace of the city was again broken Thursday, leaving at least 15 persons, including a Police Staff Officer, Dalyop Pinda, dead and several others severely injured. Two churches, an Islamic school and over 20 buildings were also razed at Barkin Ladi, the council headquarters of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State.
Meanwhile, to curtail the mayhem and possible reverberation and indeed the ensuing tension in the area, the Special Task Force (STF) in charge of security in the state has imposed a 24-hour curfew in the area.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Abraham Yiljap, while briefing the press after assessing the level of damage, said the actual cause of the mayhem had not been ascertained. He however disclosed that over 60 persons had been arrested and were currently being interrogated, adding that the law would take its course. He said but for the rapid deployment of security forces the crisis would have escalated.
He said: “We are all the more pained by the fact that these are people that have been living together peacefully for more than decades,” adding that government was taking steps towards providing relief for the displaced persons.
This rage, a resident of the area said, was not unconnected with the killing of three Berom youths who were returning from Barkin Ladi to their village of Rasat last Sunday, by persons suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
Since then, there has been tension in the area. The security personnel did not mount surveillance in the area, after the earlier killings. The Beroms in reprisal reportedly went after the herdsmen resulting in the death of four others believed to be Fulanis.
But the full-blown mayhem, according to the resident, broke out yesterday morning with the killing of three Muslim youths and burning of the Islamic school in the area. The Hausa/Fulani teamed up and wreaked havoc on the Beroms and their churches.
Giving an account, Chairman of Barkin Ladi Local Government, Mr. Emmanuel Loman, said it took the spirited effort of riot policemen to save the Kassa Agric Training Centre, which was almost razed by the rioters, adding: “One of the mobile police was even shot”.
He added that the Hausa Muslims had remobilised at Kura and Gashish to launch another onslaught on the natives when the security forces dislodged them.
A serving councillor with the council, Mr. Pam Choji Pam, lost his four children who were attacked and killed in their house. Corps members serving with the council have all been rescued to the NYSC Secretariat in Jos.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Jacob Apev, and the STF spokesman, Captain Charles Ekeocha, said they were still trying to compile data on the casualty and the level of damage to properties.
But in Sagamu, Ogun State, the advent of Christmas season may have upped the scale of violence on the quiet town with armed robbers Thursday, literally seizing the town for hours as they raided bank after bank along Sabo area of the town. By the time the town was recovered from the robbers, 12 persons had been killed.
Most of the banks robbed were new generation banks, although the security men in one of the banks resisted the firepower of the robbers thus repelling them. .
The armed robbers and the local vigilante group were engaged in a gun duel which left about 12 persons including a policeman dead and about five others injured.
The robbers had reportedly stormed the Sabo area of Akarigbo road to rob commercial banks, but a stiff resistance led to the face-off, which paralysed activities for several hours in the town.
It was gathered that the robbers, whose number could not be confirmed, had arrived the area at about 10.00 am to rob the banks after previous attempts had failed, but the robbers allegedly came with sophisticated weapons which overwhelmed the local vigilante group. A stray bullet hit the driver of the vigilante group and a policeman, while others sustained injuries.
THISDAY gathered from a resident, Mr. Taiwo Joseph, that “the development has brought panic to Sagamu. Their gunshots were deafening and it was as if Sagamu was under siege. We learnt that they escaped through Iperu/Ibadan road with little or no resistance by the Police”.
The state’s PPRO, Muiywa Adejobi, however, said there was no information yet on the robbery, adding that residents confirmed the robbery and had decided to keep indoors.
But less bloody was the havoc in Bayelsa State where SPDC recorded a massive fire outbreak on its facility. Two weeks ago, there was oil spillage at its Ikarama facility in Okordia area of Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state.
THISDAY gathered that the trunk line feeding the facility exploded forcing the people of Ikarama and Rumuekpe communities to scamper for safety as the fire spread towards their vicinity.
A similar fire outbreak had forced Shell to shut in production at the facility two weeks ago. But the SPDC Public Relation Affairs Manager, Mr. Precious Okologbo, alleged that the spill was an act of sabotage caused by illegal third party interference on the trunk line.
Okologbo said the line had been shut down following a leak caused by illegal third party interference on November 8, 2011, a situation that the company rectified and repaired before Wednesday’s spillage.
He insisted that “there is no crude on the line, no carbon on the affected line, the fire would not last”.
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