Youths from the Ugondu community in Makurdi Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue State reportedly attacked the convoy of the state governor, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia. The group allegedly pelted the governor’s convoy with stones in protest over plans to bury the proprietor of Vaatia College, Makurdi, Engr. Michael Vaatia, within the school premises located in their community.
According to information gathered by DAILY POST, six youths from Ugondu were arrested by the police for throwing objects at the governor’s convoy during the protest. Governor Alia had visited Vaatia College to assess preparations for the burial of the deceased proprietor, scheduled to take place within the school premises on Thursday.
The unrest escalated when angry youths from the host community reportedly invaded the school and destroyed the grave.
Witnesses observed the youths chanting war songs while the governor was addressing community leaders in the school. The situation led to disruptions in proceedings, with some members of the governor’s entourage trapped outside as security escorts attempted to prevent the protesters from accessing the school.
Sources reported that the irate youths fired gunshots into the air, attempting to create chaos. However, the situation was brought under control with the arrival of the police special unit, known as Operation Zenda, resulting in the arrest of several individuals involved in the disturbance.
Governor Alia, addressing community leaders including former Senator Fred Orti, retired Permanent Secretary Akange Audu, Ter Makurdi, and other traditional rulers, cautioned against actions that could promote chaos and disunity in the state. He urged leaders to distance themselves from the incident, warning that any involvement would be thoroughly investigated.
“I have come to correct some misgivings that happened in the rulership of your son as governor.
“I sent both the Tiv, Idoma, and other tribes overseas for training without discrimination.
“I want to believe you, the traditional and community leaders, denying involvement in what has happened.
“Surely, some youths arrested will make confessions and if they mention your name, be ready to go and answer.”
The governor emphasized that similar burials had occurred in the past without opposition, citing an example of an Igbo man and another individual being buried in Makurdi town without any protests. Governor Alia reassured students on campus of their safety during and after the burial, directing the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations to ensure peace during the wake-keep and burial scheduled for Thursday.