…Unconfirmed Casualties Recorded
By Wole Adedeji, Ilorin
Unconfirmed number of casualties were feared recorded between Offa and Erin-Ile, in Kwara State, in a renewed bloody clash between the two communities on Thursday.
Also, two buildings were said to have been torched, as at the time of filing this report on Thursday.
However, in a swift reaction, the state governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, quickly announced the imposition of a 6pm to 8am curfew on the two communities, to quickly douse the tension.
It was gathered that the problem might have been occasioned by the decision of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RTEAN, in Offa to commence the construction of its office on the bufferzone demarcated by the state government on Wednesday.
The decision was however said to have been resisted by their Erin-Ile counterparts, which led to the bloody clash.
Efforts of the Police Area Command stationed in Offa and other security agencies for the purpose of quelling possible fight between the communities were said not to be enough to stop the wanton killing and destructions.
Late in the afternoon on Thursday, exchange of gunshots by residents of the warring communities were heard from a distance, while thick smokes engulfed the war zone, before the state government announced the curfew.
The two rival communities had for decades been at war with each other over boundary disputes and it had always been bloody. Lives and properties worth millions of naira had each time been lost to the fight.
The administrations of both former Governors Bukola Saraki and Abdulfatah Ahmed in the state had intervened by creating buffer zones in between the border areas of the two communities to stave off future clashes.
Meanwhile, government had ordered immediate deployment of police, soldiers, and officers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, to the troubled areas as at the press time on Thursday.
Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, in statement on Thursday, said that the curfew would be in force in Offa and Erin-Ile until further notice.
Ajakaiye said in the statement, “This follows the renewed hostilities between some groups of persons from the two communities on Thursday.
“The curfew takes immediate effect from 6p.m. today Thursday March 4, 2021. Security agencies have been deployed to enforce the curfew. While security forces on ground are to maintain the peace, military reinforcements from Sobi Barracks and the Mobile Police Force from Ilorin have been deployed immediately
“All residents are hereby directed to withdraw from the streets of Offa and Erin-Ile and all contested areas immediately. Residents are to stay indoors until the curfew is reviewed.
“The governor urges residents of both communities and travellers crisscrossing the areas to comply with this directive to save lives and property and appealed to leaders on both sides to restrain and caution their people against provocative actions.”