By Boluwaji Obahopo – Lokoja
Twenty-three persons have been feared dead as suspected militia, believed to be herdsmen invaded Tawari Community in Kogi LGA, of Kogi State at the early hour of Friday.
The Administrator of the local government, Musa Mohammed, who confirmed the incident, however, said 19 persons died in the midnight invasion.
The militia also burnt down the palace of the third class chief, Yusuf Idris alongside several other houses in the area.
Sources from the community believed the militia invasion to be a reprisal attack by herdsmen whose kinsmen were killed along Lokoja – Abuja federal highway recently by security agencies.
Vigilantes from Tawari community were said to have killed the herdsmen whom they alleged were kidnappers; a development that must have angered the militia to attack the community.” The source said
The source also said one of the herdsmen was killed and his body mutilated by suspected ritualists around the community last year, which the herdsmen pointed accusing fingers at the Tawari community, and threatened reprisal.
“But following persistent persuasion by the community head, Alhaji Yahaya Tawari, against a reprisal, the herdsmen lived in the community with their host community in peace until a few days ago when they started moving out en masse.
“While efforts were made to pacify them as to their reason for the mass movement, the herdsmen said their movement was a way of life, assuring that it had no ulterior motives.
“But the killing of the herdsmen suspected to be kidnappers terrorising motorists along the Lokoja – Abuja federal highway four days ago must have angered the herdsmen, who alleged that the misfortune of their colleagues killed as suspected kidnappers was made possible by information from the Tawari community; reason for the reprisal in the wee hours of yesterday.”
Eye witness account put the dead at twenty-three, but the administrator however confirmed nineteen, described the incident as very unfortunate, assured that efforts are on to return life to normalcy.
As at the time of report military personnel has been deployed to the community, while the Kogi state Commissioner of Police was on ground to monitor the situation and provide support.
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