The death toll in the ongoing gang war in Benue State has reached 25, with three additional fatalities reported in the Ayati community of Ukum Local Government Area.
The conflict initially erupted over the weekend, resulting in at least 22 deaths in the Chito and Tyo Akosu communities of Ukum LGA. The violence emerged from a fierce clash between two rival criminal gangs known as the “Chain Gang” and “Full Fire” groups.
According to reports, the fighting, which commenced over the weekend, spilled over into the Ayati community on Sunday evening, claiming the lives of three more suspected gang members.
An anonymous source in the area revealed, “We have learned that the attack in Ayati, where three lives were claimed on Sunday evening, was an extension of the fight that began over the weekend in Chito and Tyo Akosu. The situation is complicated because it is difficult to determine who is aligned with which group among our youths. The fight has escalated to the point where human lives are being taken as if they were animals.”
In response to the escalating violence, Ezra Nyiyongo, the legislator representing Ukum State Constituency in the State House of Assembly, called on the state government to intensify strategies to address the crisis.
Nyiyongo stated, “We have experienced similar incidents in the past, such as the abduction of the serving Commissioner for Information, Matthew Aboh, and the subsequent death of one of our elder statesmen in their hands. We continually witness these occurrences, with reports of 24 people killed one day, 11 another day, and so on. As a government, we need to enhance our strategy. I am deeply saddened, and I believe the government is taking this matter seriously. As a legislator, I have reported it to my Speaker, and we will discuss it with the Governor. I trust that we will make progress sooner or later. During our election campaigns, the Governor promised to do everything possible to bring peace, even if it meant adopting a softer approach towards the so-called boys in the bush.”
He added, “At times, I feel ashamed because if it were external aggressors attacking us, we could point to a breakdown of law and order. However, in this case, we have siblings from the same parents pointing guns at each other. Who will report whom? This is the situation we are facing, and it is devastating and terrible.”