Map of Benue State
Residents alleged that while 15 were killed in the Chito gang supremacy fight, the remaining seven were gunned down at a drinking joint in Tyo Akosu settlement of the same Ukum LGA.
The gangsters have been allegedly responsible for the unrest in Ukum and two other local government areas – Logo and Katsina-Ala, making up the Sankera axis of the state.
Villagers said a fight broke out between the two rival gangs popularly known as Chain and Full Fire at the weekend, leading to the killing of the 15 people whose bodies were seen in an amateur video and photos circulated on social media.
A local from the area told our correspondent on the telephone that the victims were part of another banditry group terrorising the Sankera axis but were gunned down by a rival gang.
“It was a fight of supremacy between the two gangs in Ukum LGA. They have been on each other’s neck. Full Fire employed the service of another banditry group to help kill Chain members who got wind of the plan and laid in ambush.
“They (Chain) opened fire and killed all of them (hired mecenaries). Some said they were 10 while others said they were 15. Everyone of them had gun on their bodies. It was a fight for supremacy, not communal.
“But the locals have run away because they are afraid of reprisal. The villagers feared that in the course of reprisal, they might be affected despite being innocent,” the local said.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for Benue Command, SP Catherine Anene, however, told journalists in Makurdi that she was not aware of the incident.