3 killed in a Benue communal power supply dispute



According to reports, at least three people were killed on Monday as a result of a dispute between youths from the Obi and Otukpo local government areas of Benue State over a disconnected electricity supply.


After observing a four-day blackout in their vicinity, the youths of the Ijegwu community of Obi LGA allegedly accused their counterparts of Ojantele in Otukpo of tampering with the high tension electricity supply linking both local government areas.

When confronted angrily by members of the Ojantele community, it was alleged that the Ijegwu youths climbed the pole containing the electric switch to confirm their suspicions.


It was learned that the confrontation degenerated into a fight, and before long, the youths began using weapons, including firearms, resulting in the death of one person and the injury of several others.


The parties to the dispute were said to have subsequently mobilized against one another, resulting in the deaths of two more people and the injuries of several others, bringing the total number of fatalities to three.


Residents told our correspondent at the time this report was filed that the fighting youths had destroyed a large number of homes in both communities.


SP Catherine Anene, the state’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), confirmed that an incident involving electricity supply occurred in the area after being contacted.


Anene added, however, that she did not know if any fatalities were reported because she had not been provided with complete information about the incident.


Olaniyi Ogunmakinya, regional manager of the Jos Electricity Distribution Company (JED) in Otukpo, told journalists in Makurdi that they were repairing faulty power lines in the region.


“What actually occurred is that our network is segmented using what we call isolators. If there are problems in some areas, we use them to isolate those areas, allowing other areas to continue receiving power while we work on the problematic areas.


“I have isolated at the end of the Otukpo LGA connecting Obi. And when it rained a few days ago and we discovered that our lines had been damaged, we had to isolate the affected areas so that we could repair the lines. But whenever we do this to repair the lines, the people on the Obi LGA side will not be pleased that we are isolating them; they would prefer that everyone be without power before the repairs, rather than isolating them alone.


According to what I’ve heard, they allegedly marched to that isolation point two days ago to sabotage it. However, the youth of the community who would be impacted by their action resisted, resulting in the conflict. That is all I am aware of. I cannot determine whether or not they killed each other. According to the report I received, they did not damage our facilities. “The youth of Otukpo resisted an attempt to sabotage our isolators,” he explained.


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