7 killed in Edo community over youth leadership tussle

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From Tony Osauzo, Benin

Seven persons, including a soldier, have been reportedly killed in Obayantor community in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo State in the clash between rival youth groups in the community over leadership tussle.

It was learnt that the deaths occurred when a faction of the youth leadership in the community reportedly led security personnel into the community to comb it over alleged possession of firearms by a rival group and in the process, a soldier was said to have been killed which provoked a reprisal in which no less than six people mostly youths, were killed.

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The Army has however denied the death of any of its personnel in the clash.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a son-in-law to an 80-year-old woman, said the incident happened on Saturday night and that his mother-in-law had to trek through the bush for hours before she was rescued and taken to Benin City

“As I am talking to you, she is with me in Benin City and we have to arrange for somebody to go and massage her because she trekked into the bush to nowhere. She said they don’t even know what happened but that on Saturday night they started hearing gunshots everywhere in the community and they just started running into the bush”, he added.

In his comment, spokesman of the Edo State Police Command, SP Bello Kontongs, said: “It was a military operation so I don’t have any information on that but once I have I will let you know.”

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On its part, the 4 Brigade of the Nigerian Army in Benin, said it never carried out a reprisal attack in the community but an operation based on intelligence from the Department of State Service (DSS).

Spokesman of the Brigade Capt Yemi Sokoya said against some reports making the rounds, soldiers were not in the community because of reprisal, adding that the personnel of the brigade were guided by rules of engagement and code of conduct for internal security.

He explained that the Brigade got a report from the DSS about hoodlums disturbing the community, and of weapons being stocked up which “we found out that it was true, because as soon as we got there, some of the hoodlums engaged the troop.

“However, even if there was a communal issue before now, with what is happening in the country today if you are a commander and you are told people are stockpiling weapons somewhere, you will go there and ensure that those weapons are seized, confiscated and those involved arrested. I think that is the right thing to do and that is exactly what the commander did.

“The issue of communal crisis is not part of why we went there. It was basically on the hint report that hoodlums in that community are stockpiling weapons and terrorising the community.

Sokoya disclosed that in the course of the operation, some weapons which include two AK-47 rifles, three English pump Action guns, one double barrel, 32 cartridges, five mobile phones and an ID card belonging to the state vigilante were recovered.

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