Benue youths protest killings, block road and LG office

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On Wednesday, dozens of youths blocked the Ayati-Sai road in Ukum Local Government Area of Benue State to protest the ongoing violence and killings in the region.

The protesters also stormed the council secretariat in Zaki Biam, the headquarters of Ukum LGA, causing damage to express their frustration over what they perceive as government insensitivity to the relentless killings.

A resident of Ayati village, who requested anonymity for safety reasons, reported to our correspondent that the protest was sparked by the killing of 11 people by local bandits on Tuesday night.

The resident explained, “The local government has been extremely volatile recently, with daily incidents of killings and kidnappings. Unfortunately, the state government has shown little seriousness in addressing these issues.”

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He continued, “On Tuesday night, bandits invaded Ayati village and killed several people. When the youths found 11 bodies, it ignited their anger, leading to the roadblock and protest. Some of the youths even took the corpses to the council secretariat, smashing windows and causing destruction to vent their anger.”

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When contacted, Ukum LGA Chairman Victor Iorzaa declined to comment on the incident, stating, “I am not in a position to speak on that now.”

However, state command spokesperson Catherine Anene confirmed the protest but said she was still gathering information on its cause. The state government also acknowledged the protest and the killings in Ukum LGA.

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Joseph Har, Special Adviser to the state Governor on Internal Security, attributed the killings to bandits. He stated, “Yes, they are protesting because of the killings in the area. We don’t have all the details yet, but bandits are responsible. They are protesting and threatening to burn down the LG Secretariat, but they know the state government has already taken action against these bandits.”

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Har added, “This is what we call in security terms ‘the last kick of a dying horse.’ Recently, there was a significant operation against their camps in Katsina-Ala. The bandits, having been dislodged, are now trying to vent their anger on defenseless people and create confusion in the towns.”

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“I have spoken to the youth leaders and urged them to be patient. The government will maintain its efforts. We will not be deterred by these killings but will continue to apply pressure on the bandits until they are completely neutralized.”

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