By Amos Aar
UNKNOWN gunmen again struck in Sankera Tiv geo-political zone of Benue State in the early hours of Tuesday, killing a Catholic Priest, Reverend Father Ferdinand Ngugban, and at least 9 people in Ayer-Twar Village, Agu Centre in Katsina-Ala local government area of the state.
Reliable sources told National Record that the gunmen launched the attack in the early hours of Tuesday, burning and pulling down houses while also shooting at village on sight.
A source revealed that in the midst of the shooting, some villagers ran to the Catholic Church where the 6am Holy Mass had just ended with Rev Fr. Ngugban beckoning on them to enter the church.
The gunmen who were pursuing the fleeing villagers seeking for refuge in the church reportedly chased them to the church opening fire and killing many of them including Fr. Ngugban in the process.
But Catherine Sewuese Anene, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Benue State Command, who confirmed the incident to newsmen, only confirmed the death of Rev. Fr. Ngugban.
The PPRO said the Corpse of the murdered Catholic priest has been deposited at the General Hospital in Kastsina-Ala, “while a joint operation of police and other security agencies are on the trail of the hoodlums.”
Dispelling rumours that the priest was killed while celebrating Holy Mass at the Church’s Alter, DSP Anene clarified that “the priest was attacked in his parish house not during church service…”
The security situation in Sankera which comprises three local government areas; Ukum, Logo and Katsina-Ala, has been volatile for quite some time.
On Tuesday, March 2, 2021, Chief (Dr) Terkula Suswam, the immediate elder brother to the former Benue State governor, and serving Senator representing Benue zone A, was murdered in his hometown of Anyiin, Logo LGA, along with his personal aides, Mr Solomon Utanor. They were both buried on March 13, 2021.
After Dr Suswam’s murder, series of killings continued unabated in Sankera which imposed an atmosphere of fear on the axis.
“On 11th March, 2021 gunmen launched an attack on Haaga Village in Kastina-Ala LGA, and in the course of police response to the attack, one policeman was killed while one other sustained injuries and rushed to the General Hospital in Kastina-Ala.