Unknown gun men last night at Ikyoazande, in Ushongo local government area of Benue State, shot and killed two residents of Adikpo town in Kwande council area of the state in what many people in the town believe to be a struggle for supremacy between two rival gangs.
The deceased have been identified as Mr Agbatse Tarkighir, chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Adikpo Township ward, and Mr Dege Ayaahemba, a Kwande local government employee and supporter of the party.
The third victim who survived the attack, Mr Aondowase Bigila, also a Kwande council staff and PDP supporter, disclosed at St Monica’s Hospital Adikpo where he was admitted that he and the deceased had gone to Katsina-Ala and were returning when the attackers who parked a red Toyota Corolla popularly called ‘dognyash’ at the point opened fire on their vehicle and deflated its tyres before shooting its occupants.
He said the late Tarkighir who was the driver and the late Ayaahemba with him in the front seat were killed on the spot while he was shot in the arm and on the left side of the abdomen after he opened the side door and was escaping to the other side of the road.
He said one of the gunmen before shooting said “Obadiah, you are finished today.”
A resident of Ikyoazande, Mr Joseph Anzue, stated that he was listening to the radio between eight and nine pm when he heard gunshots that lasted for several minutes but could not get close for fear that he might also be a target.
According to him when the shots subsided he saw the car of the attackers drive towards Katsina-Ala before he approached the vehicle in which he found the two victims in a pool of blood having been shot point blank on the head and several parts of their bodies.
Several sources disclosed that the vehicle in which the victims were attacked belonged to one Obadiah Tijime, one of the PDP youth leaders in Adikpo town who was recently kidnapped at Ugbema junction in Buruku local government area, taken to a forest where he was seriously beaten and warned not to drive through the area any longer.
A neighbor of Mr Tijime stated that he was conscious of being marked for attack and had resorted to changing vehicles in which he travelled as a routine.
Adikpo residents maintain that two rival gangs which operate between Gboko and Kwande have been locked in a battle for supremacy about who controls the lucrative business of providing protection to Adikpo traders.
The war broke out when one of the groups arrested a member of the other group and burnt him alive in the town.
Many of those who spoke on condition of anonymity said the All Progressives Congress, APC had no hand in the attack as being alleged by the PDP.