Over 50 people have been allegedly killed as palaces of two traditional rulers of Asakio and Obi were burnt in a renewed ethnic clash involving Eggon and Alago youths in Nasarawa State.
The clash began last week Thursday.
The police, however, confirmed that three people were killed, while many houses were burnt during the fresh communal violence.
National Mirror learnt that the palaces of paramount rulers of Obi and Assakio chiefdoms, HRH Dangiwa Ogiri and HRH Inarigu Osula, who are both of Alago extraction, were destroyed by the armed Eggon youths.
No fewer than 20,000 persons, mostly women and children within and around the affected communities have been displaced by the crisis.
The communal clash was said to have begun at Tudun Adabu area of Obi Local Government Area, about 40 kilometres from Lafia, the state capital, before it spread to the council headquarters and Assakio town in Lafia Local Government Area.
Obi and Assakio towns are approximately 50 and 30 kilometres away from the state capital.
Report claimed that the communities were attacked following information that some Alago youths and policemen, acting on a tip off, apprehended a van conveying Eggon militias at Adabu who were on their way to Awe Local Government Area for an undisclosed mission.
A victim, who did not want his name mentioned, told National Mirror that Assakio community was attacked by the gunmen in their hundreds.
The victim said the attackers shot anyone they laid their hands on.
He said: “As I am speaking to you now, I don’t know the fate of any of my family members because the attackers suddenly stormed our community unannounced. We were not prepared for any form of resistance as we did in the last attack. So, I am hoping that the government will fish them out for prosecution.”
In a state-wide broadcast yesterday, the government condemned the incident, warning that it would not stand by and watch “the heartless criminals unleash a reign of terror on innocent citizens.”
The state deputy governor, Damishi Barau Luka, who made the broadcast on behalf of Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, said that government had taken adequate measures to bring the situation under control.
Luka said: “This unprovoked attack by some Eggon youths suspected to be members of the outlawed Ombatse cult on the innocent people of Adabu and other parts of Obi, as well as Assakio towns is, to say the least, barbaric, condemnable and an affront on the security of lives and property of innocent citizens.
“The government wishes to state categorically that it will not stand by and watch these heartless criminals in our state unleash a reign of terror on innocent citizens.”
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Shehu Umar, told journalists yesterday in Lafia that the clash was between suspected members of Ombatse and Alago groups in Obi Local Government Area.
Umar said that the police had drafted a team of security personnel to the troubled communities to restore peace.
He said: “Three persons were killed while many others were injured during the clash, but many houses that we cannot give account of for now were burnt.”
Meanwhile, the apex Northern socio-political organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), yesterday called on the Federal Government to arrest those behind the violence for prosecution.
In a statement, ACF spokesman, Mr. Anthony Sani, described the incident as mindless crisis between communities who hitherto lived peacefully among themselves, but have now decided to take it out on each other in order to address their concerns.
The statement, however, condemned what the forum described as heartless destruction of lives and properties, stressing that resorting to violence had never resolved perceived grievances any where across the globe.
ACF said: “It is against this backdrop that ACF appeals to the feuding factions to lay down their arms and embrace civilized way of addressing perceived grievances in the interest of peaceful coexistence needed for socioeconomic development. As they do so, the feuding communities must note that all communities are settlers.
“ACF also calls on the government to investigate and bring perpetrators to justice in order to deter future occurrences. And in doing so, they must avoid generalisation and stick to what they know, lest generalisation enable criminals to use groups as shield to perpetrate heinous crimes.”