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Communities In Benue And Nasarawa States At Daggers Drawn Over Chieftaincy Disputes

Two communities across two states, Benue and Nasarawa in North Central Nigeria, are counting their casualties following an outbreak of violence over disputed claims to a chieftaincy stool.

While 13 people have been confirmed dead in repeated disturbances in Ukpogo-Edikwu community, Apa Local Government Area of Benue State, the Agirma community in Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State is reeling from untold hardship. 

The disputed claim to the throne in Agirma chiefdom had pitted two community leaders,  Ayuba Agwiye and Godiya Entonu, in a lingering duel, resulting in the crippling of social and economic activities in the community.

HumAngle gathered that the Akpanaja chiefdom comprising Agatu, Passa, Tiv and Fulani settlers is among the 27 chiefdoms in Nasarawa State. The chiefdoms traditionally have the ruling houses, the college of selectors also known as kingmakers,  for each selection of the Osakpama. 

While residents in the troubled communities agonize over their traumatic experiences, the Police Public Relations Officer in Benue State, DSP Catherine Anene, confirmed that 13 corpses were recovered in Ukpogo-Edikwu.

An interim head of the community, Chief Otokpa, acting Alegwu of Edikwu, addressed journalists in his domain recently to shine some light on the volatile situation. 

He blamed one of the claimants to the throne whom he did not name for “declaring war on his people with the support of local politicians and hoodlums to force his way to the traditional stool’.

Chief Otokpa told journalists that the matter was already in court and did not require anyone taking the law into their hands. 

HumAngle investigations show that the growing interests of powerful politicians in  who occupies the stool of office in both communities is at the root of the volatile situation. 

Engr. Benson Abounu, the Deputy Governor of Benue State,  in August hosted stakeholders of the troubled Ukpogo-Edikwu community where he enjoined the warring parties to sheath their swords and embrace peace.

On its part the Nasarawa State Government on Friday, October 23, 2020 announced the suspension of the district and the village heads over the lingering power tussle between the community leaders with immediate effect. 

The government statement appointed Alhaji Musa Abari, the Osapka of Akpanaja to oversee the affairs of the community and to mediate to find a lasting solution to the chieftaincy problem. Alhaji Abari is expected to report back to the government.

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