Tension is rising in Benin City, capital of Edo State following the killing of 10 persons in what is believed in several quarters to be secret cult clashes.
Among those killed was a leader of the Odua People’s Congress (OPC), whose name was given as Victor and a commercial bus driver.
The OPC leader and the commercial bus driver were reportedly shot and killed at close range by armed men, operating in broad daylight at Uwelu Spare Parts Market and New Benin areas of Benin respectively last weekend in the commercial nerve centre of Benin City.
According to Newswatch Times investigations, areas mostly affected were Erediauwa Street, Off Upper Sokponba Road, where two people were killed; New Benin and Okhoro areas, where two people were also was killed.
Another victim was a popular car wash owner at Upper Mission Road area of the city and one Jude.
It was learnt that the multiple attacks started on Friday penultimate week, and that the clash was between three rival cult groups.
One of the cult groups was said to have first struck at Upper Sakponba before some of its members in New Benin clashed with another cult group in the area.
The fight, it was gathered, spilled over to Okhoro area within few hours after it began in New Benin.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer of the Edo State Police Command, DSP Joseph Edogiawerie, confirmed the attacks.
He further stated that police have arrested some suspects since the attacks broke out.
He assured residents of Benin of adequate police protection of lives and property during and after the Yuletide period.
Cult-related killings have become a recurring decimal in Benin City over the years.
Following the killing of four persons in December 2013, Edo State Police Command made several arrests in connection with the cult war by two rival groups in the state.
The State Police Commissioner, Mr. Foluso Adebanjo, made this known to journalists and said the command will deal decisively with those linked to the dastardly act.
Throughout the Christmas period 2013, reports of cult war in Benin metropolis involving two rival groups, led to the death of some youths.
Speaking on the situation, the state commissioner of police, Mr. Foluso Adebanjo described as unfortunate the gruesome killing of promising young men in the name of cultism.
He said several arrests have been made while more men and officers have been dispatched to all nooks and crannies of the state to fish out those involved in the crime.
The police boss said the command will continue to make arrests and deal decisively with anyone found guilty in the recent cult war.
He however, advised the rival groups to sheath their swords and stop the unwholesome killings.
In June 2013, over 20 persons were felled in renewed violence in the city, as cult groups clashed in the city.
Ten persons were also arrested in the same month in connection with the hostilities.
Suspected members of Eiye Confraternity and Black Axe had engaged one another in supremacy battle in the state capital.
Trouble, it was gathered, started when suspected members of the Eiye group went to the home of a member of the Black Axe to resolve issues bordering on money.
It was learnt that while discussions were ongoing, the Black Axe member allegedly brought a Pump Action gun, and shot one of the visitors on the leg.
Following this, friends of the victim later mobilised and went on a reprisal, visiting homes of suspected Black Axe members and attacking them.
The attacks resulted in the killing of a friend of the suspect, around New Benin area.
However, the fighting between members of the cult groups later escalated to places like Idu Owena, Ugbowo, Isihor, Ugbiyoko, Textile Mill Road and in Igbesanwa with many people reported killed
Worried by the development, Governor Adams Oshiomhole was said to have convened an emergency security meeting, where he charged security operatives to fish out the killers.
On the incidents, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Foluso Adebanjo said, “We are not relaxing at all. We are in search of the leaders behind these killings. Already, we have arrested some persons in connection with the crisis while others are on the run. The killings will stop because policemen are all on the alert now.
“All security agencies in the state are concerned. The governor is equally concerned and residents of the state are concerned. So, we will not relent in stopping this madness. It is very sad that people no longer value human lives; it is sad.”
Back in June 2012, at least six people were reported killed during a rivalry fight between Black Axe and Eiye Confraternity cultists at UNIBEN.
A popular University of Benin graduate identified as Nosa Ebohon popularly called Biggie was among the six people who died in the fight.
Biggie was killed at a beer parlour close to Adolor College Road, near the university on Friday night.
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