The atmosphere in Igese village of Ojenyo area , Ado local government area and Obi local council all of Benue State will sometime to come be tensed following the gruesome killing of a farmer over disagreement of a piece of farmland. One Ejah Iji was allegedly beheaded raising fears ,suspicion and a reprisal, writes, correspondent, Sunday Ogli.
There are great concerns in Benue State over an emerging trend where persons chop off one another’s head over sheer disagreements or slight quarrels. It is the joker or what others may refer as ripples of beheading. This unfortunately is the fate that has befallen the Ejah Iji family of Obi local government area of Benue State.
For this family, they are currently at a loss over the horror they will have to contend with for some time to come.
As if they have never prayed before asking the almighty creator to turn evil the other way, but one day they will ever hate and ask their creator why it ever came was last Monday 13th July, when one of their own met his untimely death.
Ejah Iji’s head was allegedly chopped off by one Raphael Agasi over a mere disagreement of a piece of farmland. For Agasi, he will be cooling off with homicide detectives of Benue Police command for what to him would be an act of the devil.
Regrettably decapitation or beheading of fellow human beings is a horrendous act that often takes place in times of crises like war or communal clashes among communities.
Such act often leaves behind painful imprint on the minds of the kinsmen of the victim(s) which often trigger reprisal. That was exactly what took place in Benue State recently.
On that fateful day, one Raphael Agasi an indigene of Igese village of Ojenyo ward of Ado local government area beheaded Ejah Iji of Obi local government area over disagreement over a piece of land.
The duo were said to have had a long standing battle over the said piece of land located in an area known as Ikpe.
Agasi was reported to have said that the deceased seized his cutlass and threatened to kill him with it before he dispossessed him and in turn killed him ( Ejah Iji).
Agasi was said to have buried Ejah ‘s half body in a shallow grave inside the farm while he kept his head inside a bag before he was arrested by some villagers at Ijegwu centre and taken to Otukpo Police Area Command.
However, some alleged that the dastard act was meant for ritual purposes.
The detention of Agasi drew a large crowd in Otukpo as several people rushed to the Police station to catch a glimpse of the man they felt was ‘too heartless’ to chop off the head of a fellow human being.
The Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of the Otukpo Police Area Commander, Samuel Drakoji, told Nigerian Pilot Sunday on phone that he earlier took custody of the human head in his office but later took it to the morgue at the Otukpo General Hospital before the end of the day.
Although he said initial efforts to conduct postmortem on the body of the deceased failed owing to traditional beliefs, Drakoji said he sent his men to the bush where the incident took place to take proper stock of it.
According to him, the deceased and his killer had had a long standing disagreement over a farmland which he said is located at the boundary between Obi and Ado local governments.
He said he immediately drafted his men to the scene of the incident to forestall further breakdown of law and order which may lead to communal crisis.
Peeved by the development, angry youths allegedly from Obi local government attacked Igese village where Agasi hails from in the evening of the fateful day and razed down all the houses.
The attack on the houses was said to be severe because the innocent residents of the village were not expecting anything untoward and as such were relaxing in the comfort of their homes when the fierce-looking ‘Obi youths’ came attacking.
They were said to have lost virtually all their properties to the invaders who it was revealed from our investigation used petrol to set fire on the houses.
According to a source, “It was a terrible experience.
Nobody expected any attack. They just entered the village and started burning and the Igese people had no choice than to run for their lives.”
The caretaker chairman of Ado local government council, Paul Udenyi told this paper on phone that the incident led to the loss of property worth millions of naira while some of the residents who he said are presently displaced are taking refuge in a primary school while others are squatting with their relations.
Udenyi also disclosed that security has been beefed up in the area to prevent escalation of the crisis, adding that far reaching decisions were taken at a meeting between him, his counterpart from Obi and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Col Edwin Jando, (rtd).
Also responding to the incident, Chief Ekpe Ogbu, former chairman of Ado and immediate past Special Adviser on Public Utilities to the outgone Governor of the state, described the incident as unfortunate, stressing that the two warring tribes who share common boundary have coexisted for several years.
Ogbu also said he had discussed with the member of the state legislature representing Obi, Hon Nick Ewuru on the need to sensitize their people to exercise restraint since further violence would lead to more disaster.
When contacted, the state Police spokesman, Austin Ezeani confirmed the two incidents and said calm has since returned to the area after Policemen were drafted there to maintain law and order.
Meanwhile, Opiatoha K’Idoma, a socio-political body in Idoma land has condemned the beheading of Ejah Iji by Raphael Agasi.
A statement signed by Adoka Adaji, Secretary General of the body condemned the act in its entirety since it is an abomination in Idoma land, urging that the culprit be made to face the full wrath of the law.
The group urged the people of Obi not to take laws into their hands but allow security agents to do their job, assuring that no stone will be left unturned to unravel the mystery surrounding the killing.