Makurdi — Tears flowed freely in the Wadata area of Makurdi town which is notoriously renown for its high rate of violent crime among youths when a yet to be identified sugarcane seller allegedly stabbed to death 19 year old Umar Abdulrahaman, his customer after a minor argument.
Though there are many sides to the story of the unfortunate incident which would have degenerated into a major communal conflict in Makurdi town but for the quick intervention of the Seniour Special Assistant to the Benue State Governor on Public Utilities, Mr. Gadaffi Asemanya who arrived the scene of the incident when angry youths of the area had mobilised for reprissal attack on all Hausa speaking artisans in the area.
Saturday Vanguard gathered from an eyewitness that the incident which occured Tuesday morning at about 10 am in the Wadata area of Makurdi town left residents scampering for safety while traders at the ever busy popular Wadata market started packing their wares and closing their shops for fear of being attacked.
According to the witness who craved anonymity, the deceased who until his death lived at number 20 Kano street was a petty trader who dealt in used clothes and bags at the Wadata market.
He disclosed that the deceased had engaged the sugarcane seller in an argument after purchasing a stick of sugarcane from him.
He stressed that onlookers had initially thought the duo were exchanging pleasantries until their voices started rising after which a serious quarrel ensued between them.
"They were actually talking but suddenly an arguing over the balance (change) that was supposed to be given the murdered young man.
"Their voices started rising as if they wanted to exchange blows. All we heard at the time was a sudden laud scream and the young man fell.
"When we rushed to the scene, we saw blood gushing from the chest of the deceased where he was stabbed and we discovered that the young man was battling for life.
'Then he died and became cold even before he could be taken to the hospital while his attacker immediately fled the scene of the incident leaving his victim in the pool of his own blood."
In his account of the incident, an elder brother of the deceased who gave his name as Yunusa said his late younger brother was stabbed to death by the assailant for no reason whatsoever.
According to Yunusa, "My brother had walked away from the scene of the argument when the sugarcane seller confronted him and stabbed him on the chest.
"He bled profusely because the stab apparently penetrated his heart and he died almost instantly before we were able to get medical attention for him", he said.
Corroborating the story, the Senior Special Assistant to the Benue State Governor on Public Utilities, Mr. Gadaffi Asemanya, said he was informed of the incident by an informant who alerted him that there was palpable tension in Wadata town among some Islamic youths after a sugarcane seller allegedly stab his victim to death who was of a different Islamic group.
Asemanya said, " I was alerted that youths of the various Islamic sects mobilized themselves and were about unleashing mayhem in Wadata.
"When I arrived the area, I saw angry youths who had mobilised themselves and were searching the neighbourhood for anyone selling sugarcane with the intent to kill them.
"At that time, there was palpable tension and they had already started making bonfire with all the sugarcane they had seized from the neighbourhood and were about to march into all the houses in the area in search of any Hausa artisan living or operating within the area.
"I had to plead with their sense of reasoning and warned them of the implication of taking the laws into their hands; and after much persuasion, they listened to me.
"I was able to calm them down though they were insisting that the killer of their brother should be produced for them to met out justice on him.But luckily before the situation got out of hand, the security personnel that I had alerted earlier stormed the scene of the crime and took charge of the situation", Asemanya said.
The Governor's aide who lamented the manner the young man was murdered in his prime urged youths of the state to desist from getting hooked to dangerous drugs adding that "the bizarre manner the young man was killed clearly indicated that the culprit could have been under the influence of hard drugs".
While condemning the rising wave of violent crimes among youths in the state, Asemanya urged parents to keep a close tab on their children and wards in order to check the type of friends they keep.
He also urged the authorities to check the rising influx of people whom he said hardly communicated in familiar languages.
"Some of these people come in from neigbouring countries to engage in menial jobs in Nigeria without proper documentation and they constitute a major threat to our security.
"Some of them make money from their petty businesses and before you know it, they start operating commercial motorcycle business in town without knowing existing traffic rules thereby endangering the lives of their passengers. It's just unfortunate", he stated.
When contacted, the Benue State Police Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent of Police, DSP, Daniel Ezeala confirmed the incident but pointed out that the police was yet to make any arrests.