By; RALPH OKHIRIA, Benin City
Renewed hostility between two powerful groups in Benin City, capital of Edo State, the Aye and Eiye confraternities has in the past three days led to the killing of not less than five persons in different parts of city and its environs.
Latest casualty was a university undergraduate, known as John Terry who was gruesomely murdered by gunmen believed to be rival cultists.
An eye witness disclosed that Terry was beaten to death with Iron rods and sticks by suspected rival cultists, until he gave up the ghost along Upper Uwa Street, off M.M Way in the state.
“He (Terry) was was seized by his attackers who shot him several times with their cut to size gun but surprisingly, the bullets did not penetrate his body.
“As people determined to end Terry’s life, they physically overpowered him, wrestled him down and started pummelling his head until his skull was broken to pieces before they walked away as if nothing had happened.
“From what I saw from my hiding place, what those attackers did was wickedness taken too far”, an eye witness who simply identified his name as Johnson, said.
Also on Tuesday, a father of four identified simply as Africa was hacked to death at Aifuwa Junction, a suburb in the city, after cultists fired shots at him.
The corpse of Africa and Terry have been dumped at the Central Hospital mortuary in Benin City by both sympathizers and the police.
At a popular location known as “Three House area” at the Upper Sokponba axis of Benin City, traders and shop owners scampered for safety as suspected cultists engaged in supremacy battle with fire arms.
But at the time the dust settled, two unidentified boys belonging to rival cult groups were said to have laid dead.
As the cult violence deepens, some residents in the affected locality who pleaded anonymity said over 20 persons ran into various shop when some youths suspected to be cultists unleash terror in the Upper Sakponba Area in the state, which has become a hotspot/flashpoint for cult related crimes in the state.
A pharmaceutical shop owner who.didn’t want his identity revealed stated that heavy shooting started in the area at about 8pm and passersby who didn’t want to be hit by stray bullets laid on the floor of shops to seek refuge.
He disclosed that traders around the area now close their shops as early as 7pm for fear of attacks by daredevil gunmen.
“All of us were on the floor while shootings were on. We later heard many people were robbed while two boys were killed,” another eyewitness who simply identified herself as Rosa, said.
Another witness said policemen later stormed the area after the gunmen had had their field day and left the scene and started arresting innocent persons.
Only on Sunday night, the Manager of the hotel owned by Osaze Odemwingie, Mr. Osato Okunkpolor, was killed by cultists who engaged in a shootout.
Edo Police spokesman, DSP Chidi Nwabuzor, said the Police has set up security measures to make sure the city is safe and well protected.
But worried by the killing trend in Benin City, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) , Edo State Council has condemned the unwarranted killings in parts of the state by rival cult groups.
A statement signed by the NUJ chairman, Sir Roland Osakwue and Secretary Mr. Titus Akhigbe called on the state government to heed the cry of the people by working hand in hand with the security agencies to put a stop to the cult related killings in Benin City, the Edo state capital.
“The union condemns the unending cult-related killings and we call on all the security agencies in Edo State to quickly nip it in the bud before it degenerates to a full blown battle between the rival cult groups.”the statement added.