Four Killed, Dozens Wounded Over Land Dispute In Lapai, Niger State

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Niger State Governor,Sani Bello


By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna


Three Village Heads and scores of their subjects are helping the police in Niger State to find the agent provocateurs in a fratricidal communal clash where four persons have been killed, houses razed and property destroyed in a senseless bloodletting amongst kinsmen.
A protracted land dispute amongst  three neighbouring villages of Gbogyi, Kpada, Ekuun in Lapai council area of Niger state, a people divided by artificial, imaginary border line but who have been at each other’s throats for years over the rightful owner of a parcel of land on their borderlines, has led to acrimony and loss of lives.
NN Online news portal gathered that friction amongst the three neighbours over the land has been a protracted issue known in official circles.
Successive administrations in the state have at one time or the other either swept it under the rug or used executive fiats to silence the contenders even as each of the three grandstand over what they individually insists is their ancestral land which lays on the fringes of their territories.
The latest faceoff has been the bloodiest as combatants from each of the three villages brought out their crude warfare tools in a fight to finish. Lives were lost, the land was desecrated and brotherhood was debased and annihilated.
Sources from Lapai told our correspondent that the local government authority as well as the traditional institution there had severally in the past, waded into the dispute without resolution as none of the three neighbours was ever willing to shift ground nor make room for peace.
The disputed land has been at the centre of contentions between the rural communities in Lapai, one of the Nupe speaking councils of the state. The matter has been long before a Court in the state capital.
The recent altercations over the land was sparked off about two weeks ago according to an insider when some youths from three neighbouring villages were engaged in nerve racking arguments. A fight ensued over right of thoroughfare as allegations of trespass heightened.
The fight amongst the young persons, though abated, however resumed later as aggrieved and wounded persons felt cheated and wanted vengeance to get even and assert their hegemony.
The second fight amongst the three was imminent as some elders joined the fray to draw more combatants from across the three divides.
And as the elders were added, with each side drawing their swords, cudgels and Spears, the ensuing fight was wide spread. Scores were injured, homes, property including economic trees on farmlands adjoining the disputed land were vandalised.
For days common sense was thrown into the air as combatants took on each others. The fights went into the night to resume the next morning.
Without any abatement, belligerent persons waited for the darkness of the night under which they went on torching spree of homes of their enemies. Before dawn, dozens of houses laid as ruins, no thanks to the activities of arsonists.
Victims of the night attacks went berserk in acts of vengeful revenge at day break. More destructions were visited as four persons were consumed while several others escaped with deep machete and cudgel cuts.
The police in the area said the three Village Heads and several others were with them, helping out to bring those who had gone underground. The police are poised to unravel who drew the first blood in the latest orgy.
In the meantime, forced sanity is prevailing in the entire villages as animosity is suppressed after wanton destruction while the disputed parcel of land lays without a scratch nor it’s bowels upturned.

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