The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Ward Chairman (names withheld) and 12 others have been feared killed in a bloody invasion of Itakpa community in Obi Local Government Area, LGA of Benue State by suspected armed herdsmen.
But the state Police Command claimed only two corpses were recovered from the attacked community.
It was gathered however that the attack had led to the displacement of thousands of persons including women and children who fled their homes for fear of being killed.
An eye-witness who spoke on condition of anonymity claimed the suspected herdsmen numbering eight, armed with AK47 riffles invaded the area in four motorbikes at about 9pm, on Sunday, and began shooting sporadically, killing their victims and injuring many.
“Among the 13 bodies found were two women in their 30s,” he said.
Confirming the development, the Caretaker Chairman of the Local Government, Mr. Joseph Ikpeyi, said the attackers invaded the community at about 9pm on Sunday night and started shooting indiscriminately and killing anything in sight.
He informed that some of the victims were people who had gathered at the residence of the local government chairman-elect to celebrate her victory after the previous day’s council election.
“After killing their victims, the gunmen took away all the cattle kept in the ranch of the lawmaker representing Obi in the state assembly.” He explained that the attack was the second this year after a similar incident few weeks ago.
According to him, “about 3,000 persons have been displaced by the attack and are currently taking refuge at the LGEA Primary School Obarike Ito.
The police have however mobilized their personnel to the area.”
On his part, first class Chief in the area, His Royal Highness, Oga Ero, retired Commissioner of Police, who confirmed the incident, claimed 13 of his subjects were killed in the attack.
The monarch said the suspected herdsmen had on May 9 attacked Echori, a neighboring community where they killed two persons.
Ero said: “But the latest attack was on Sunday when they attacked Itakpa at about 9.00 pm when the people were already in their home relaxing.
They shot and killed 13 persons, many people were wounded and currently receiving treatment at General Hospital, Obarike Ito, headquarters of Obi local government.”
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Catherine Anene, said: “When we got to the area, only two corpses were found by somebody’s farm, we searched and searched the whole area and found nothing again.
So the Commissioner of Police went back to the community and asked where the people they killed were? The villagers claimed that in their culture, they don’t show corpses to the police, so, we cannot confirm what we did not see.”