By James Ibechi
Benue is fast losing the acronym of food basket of the nation to a more sinister and noxious epithet – the bloody land of the nation, going by the regime of bloodletting that has engulfed the state in recent times.
At the last count, no less than five high-profile assassinations have taken place since the recent general election, which saw the take-over of the state by the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The ground grew bloodier on Friday with the addition of elder statesman, and second Republic parliamentarian, Hon. Atoza Ihindan, to the growing list.
The top politician, who had played the role of a father to the immediate past governor of the state, Hon. Gabriel Suswam, fell to assassins’ bullet at Katsina-Ala, on Friday afternoon, according to reports, which has since been confirmed by the police in the state.
It was gathered from close family sources that that elder statesman was killed at Kilometre 5, along Katsina-Ala – Abaji Road, where he had gone to inspect work at a site he acquired recently opposite low cost housing, close to the defunct Radio Benue booster station.
A big influence to Suswam, who usually referred to by Suswam as “my father,” his house was always a pilgrimage site as favour seekers incessantly besieged it anytime he was around. He was also biological father to the former commissioner of commerce and industry in the state, Terfa Atoza.
The source hinted that the assailants who were on a motor bike had, released a hail of bullets on the elder statesman and thereafter sped off using the route through a primary school at Dzege.
“The police detail attached to him responded with fire shots as the people were about to leave but it was too late. The bullets touched the assailants but had no effect on them as they continue shooting sporadically as they made good their escape,” the source said.
Ihindan’s killing brings to five in the series of assassinated People’s Democratic Party ( PDP ) chieftains in the state since after the last general elections, indicating that the party may actually be targetted.
Those that were similarly assassinated included former Chairman, PDP at Katsina-Ala, Mr. Lumunga Dzege Igyuve (also killed at his site), PDP Youth Leader for Ushongo Local Government, Mr. Andoo Gburga, prominent members of the youth wind of PDP at Katsina-Ala, Boniface Ikpanor, Jacob Ajon (all killed by gun) and Felix Ajiva (allegedly poisoned).
The state command of the Nigeria Police through the PPRO has since confirmed the incident assuring that perpetrators must be apprehended even as he confirmed further that investigation into the matter has commenced immediately and is in progress.