Vanguard (Lagos)

29 January 2013

Nigeria: 10 People Feared Killed in Renewed Offa/Erinle Crisis

Ilorin — At least 10 people were feared killed, Tuesday, in a renewed hostilities between the people of Offa and Erinle areas of Kwara State while property worth several hundreds of millions were destroyed.

Staff and students of Federal Polytechnic, Offa and other residents of border areas of Erinle have vacated the flash points for fear of being killed by the attackers, a development that forced the authorities of the polytechnic to hurriedly shut down the institution, yesterday.

Eye witness account told Vanguard that charms, guns and other dangerous weapons were freely used by people of both communities, even as commercial and private vehicles travelling to and from the towns to Osun State have steered clear of the areas.

Already, the state police command, yesterday, said it had drafted about 40 anti-riot policemen to the affected communities to maintain law and order.

Though the two troubled communities have been at daggers drawn over land for the past three decades, the recent war reportedly started when an unnamed native of Erinle went to Offa to buy tiles and the vehicle he used to convey the materials back to Erinle hit another vehicle belonging to an Offa indigene, which resulted in an argument and subsequently a fisticuff.

Contacted, the state Police Command Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Deputy Superintendent of Police, DSP, Olufemi Fabode who confirmed the crisis said the matter had been brought under control.

He said about 40 men of the state police command had been drafted to the affected areas to maintain law and order.

Fabode added that community leaders from the two towns had been directed to talk to their people to forestall the spread of the violence. He, however, denied the alleged killing of anyone during the clashes.

Also, reacting to the development, Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Alhaji Isiaka Gold, advised individuals and groups with a grievance or disagreement to utilise lawful channels such as the law courts for dispute resolution rather than taking laws in to their hands.

Gold, therefore, appealed to the people of the affected two communities to continue to embrace peace so as to move the state forward.

He said this became necessary because no development could take place in the areas during crisis.

NURTW denies involvement in the crisis

Meantime, the Kwara State branch of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, has denied involvement of its members in the violent clash.

A statement made available to newsmen in Ilorin and signed by the state union's chairman, Alhaji Aliyu Issa Ore, described the clash as an age-long communal clash.

It added that the NURTW members neither partook nor supported the fracas as being made to believe in some quarters and stated that it would be naïve of any section of the society to link it with the communal unrest.The statement added that the union remains "a disciplined organisation that would not drag its reputable name into the mud".

The union commended the state government for wading into the violence on time and called on the two communities to embrace peace in the interest of growth and development.

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