More than 20 persons have been feared killed in different parts of Benin City and its environs in a renewed clash between rival cult groups. An ad-hoc worker of the Edo State-owned Public Work Volunteer, whose identity could not be confirmed, was killed at his duty post at the popular Third Junction in Benin City.
The killing caused pandemonium as traders and commercial bus drivers scampered for safety. At Iyobosa Street, off M.M. Way, the cult gang killed a rival gang member at about 1:00p.m. yesterday.
Another victim was killed at Isibor Street off Sokponba road while the third victim was said to have been shot by gunmen in Alohan Junction off Erediauwa by Sapele Road. “He was walking in the street when the assailant in a car drove close to him, shot him and sped off.”
Edo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Chidi Nwabuzor, could not be reached for comments. Governor Godwin Obaseki had at the weekend vowed to flush out criminal elements from the state after a meeting with heads of security agencies.
“I have met with the Commissioner of Police and the DSS boss over the increased spate of cult activities in the state and we are deploying resources to ensure that those fuelling the crimes are brought to book. We are committed to a safe Edo and will not tolerate any criminality,” Obaseki stated.
Meanwhile, gunmen suspected to be kidnappers, yesterday morning abducted a yet-to-be identified woman in the Oredo Local Government Area of the state on her way to church.
The incident occurred on Ogeifa Street, off Mission Road, Benin City, following the killing of another unidentified middle-aged man on same road last week.It was gathered that the victim was allegedly ambushed by the gunmen on her way to attend the 6:00a.m. mass at the Holy Cross Cathedral Church on Mission Road, one of the biggest Catholic churches in the metropolis.
The attackers were said to have ordered her into an unmarked vehicle and zoomed off before residents could either raise the alarm or come to her rescue.The Assistant Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Mark Okoh, who was in shock at hearing the news of the abduction, as well as many of the faithful when it was announced during Sunday mass, condemned the incessant criminal activities taking place in the area recently.
Some residents lamented that the area had become a hot spot for criminals who unleashed terror on unsuspecting passers-by. A trader told The Guardian that another victim was dispossessed of her belongings by some suspected armed robbers yesterday.“I heard people shouting, ‘Thief! Thief!’ The high level of insecurity in this area (Ogiefa) is too much. Unless it is 7:00a.m. many residents do not come out of their homes.”
Reacting, however, the Edo State Commissioner of Police, Johnson Kokumo said it was cultists not armed robbers that were on rampage. “We made adequate deployment to key areas, a sizeable number of the cultists have been arrested and a reasonable number of their arms and ammunition have been recovered.”