Villagers in three communities in Loko Development Area of Nasarawa State, are now displaced after a gang of armed invaders from the neighbouring Agatu local Government Area of Benue State, attacked and burned down their homes, last Saturday.
Administrator of Loko, Ismaila Muhammadu Umar, told Daily Trust on phone on Thursday that the invaders came in large numbers, and overrun the Benue River bank villages of Iggah I, Iggah II and Olegode, burning down houses and other valuable properties worth hundreds of thousands of naira.
"Our people ran for their dear lives. There were no deaths, only injuries", the local government officer said. "They attacked at the early hours of the day, when our people were just waking up from their beds. They came from Agatu in Benue. That is the report we received from there."
He named the invaders as hired fighters sponsored by a local fish farmer in the neighbouring Benue, whose names he gave only as "Ada Party."
He said displaced villagers of the affected placed told the council that the alleged sponsor of the invasion, had earlier complained that unknown persons had stormed into his farm, and emptied containers of poisonous chemicals into his fish ponds.
"That is what we have gathered; that the said fish farmer had earlier complained that persons he suspected to have come from Nasarawa villages, had thrown chemicals inside his fish ponds to kill his fish", the administrators said.
He said hundreds of persons have been displaced by the invasion, and are taking refuge in neighbouring communities. "We have reported the matter to the police, and as I am talking to you know, the police have restored calm in the area", he added.
Nasarawa State Deputy Police Public Relations Officer (DPPRO), Cornelius Ocholi confirmed that "there was problem in those areas", but insisted that information available to him were still sketchy to make full briefings.
He however said "the state commissioner of police, Mr. Abayomi Akeremal acted promptly, and directed the deployment of patrol teams to the area. Even today, he directed our Operations Unit to reinforce the men sent there, with two more patrol team. I can assure you that the measures have put the situation under control."
Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, had earlier in Lafia, informed newsmen of the incident in Loko, but further reiterated his administration's commitment to ensure maintain the people's confidence in the security of their lives and properties.