Scores of students of the College of Education (COE) Katsina-Ala in Katsina-Ala local government area of Benue have continued to flee the area in large numbers following the outbreak of hostilities by suspected armed local militants.
The militants have visited mayhem on communities in the area leading to the displacement of many people including the old people, women and children of school age.
At least, eleven people were reported to have been gruesomely killed by the militia group in separate attacks, with many others wounded during last weeks attack on Ngibo village and Tse-Aye all in Ikyurav Tiev 1 in the local government.
A victim of the attack who did not want his name in print, told New Telegraph that the militants carried out sporadic shootings on Sunday which spilled over to yesterday resulting to the killing of five more people while a middle-aged woman was reportedly injured in the process.
Reports said areas affected in the latest attack included Across and Abaver/Tse-Jabi settlements near the college where the victims were killed and many houses set ablaze.
A source from the school who pleaded anonymity told New Telegraph in confidence that most students who are staying off campus have moved into the college, while others had returned to their homes to stay with their parents.
“When the shooting started last night, students, lecturers and the entire community including non-indigenes all ran to take refuge at the Bishop House where they started shooting till this morning (yesterday)”.
“The security situation in Katsina-Ala now is tensed up and I have no option than to leave with my people. I tell you, the killing and burning of houses here is too much. Most Ibo traders are leaving this place, the economy of the local government would crash and you can guess what this ugly situation portends”, said a victim.
Meanwhile, Governor Samuel Ortom yesterday said he has cut short his annual leave to return and join hands with major stakeholders to address the ongoing crisis in some border and other communities of the state.
The governor said in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase that the decision became imperative “following renewed killings of innocent people and destruction of property by gunmen especially in the Sankera area of the state”.
He appealed for calm and assured the people of the affected areas that government will do everything lawfully possible to ensure the end of the crisis and to guarantee their safety.
The Governor stated that “it was part of the peace efforts that his Deputy, Engineer Benson Abounu recently led a state delegation to Taraba to meet with key stakeholders in that state where they engaged on the best approach to end the lingering crisis between the people of border communities in the two states”.
Governor Ortom stated that even while on leave he has been in constant touch with heads of security agencies in the state and is optimistic that sooner than later, peace will return to the troubled areas.
He appealed to those taking advantage of the crisis to whip up sentiments to remember that Benue is the only state they have and if they allow politics to destroy it, the impact of such destruction will affect everyone irrespective of political affiliation.
In the meantime, the state government has slammed a 24 hour- curfew on Katsina-Ala town of the state with effect from yesterday as part of measures to restore peace and ensure the security of lives and property in that part of the state.
The curfew, which comes into immediate effect shall be reviewed as the situation demands.
Acting Governor of the State, Engineer Benson Abounu who announced the curfew in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Ogaba Ede, urged the people of Katsina-Ala to cooperate with security operatives by obeying the curfew.
The government warned that anyone found fomenting trouble in the area or in other parts of the state will be apprehended and punished according to the law.
It reassured the people that more security personnel have been deployed to Katsina-Ala to end the crisis, adding that it will continue to give security agencies every needed support to succeed.