Angry youths in Benue state have killed not fewer than three elders following the death of an additional eight people from a boat accident in Guma local government area.
The Punch reports that the passenger boat capsized on River Benue on Thursday, February 16 night but the youths accused the elders of causing the accident spiritually.
Two bodies were reportedly recovered late on Thursday while three bodies were recovered early Friday, February 17 morning and three more people still at press time in the incident that occurred at Kambe when 13 passengers were returning to Agasha, also in Guma, from a burial ceremony.
Sole administrator of Guma Anthony Shawon said the accident occurred because the boat was overloaded with drunk passengers and there was a windstorm.
He said: “The report I got is that the people were mourners who were heavily drunk, they refused to heed to advise of the boat paddlers who had insisted they would ferry them in two batches.”
“I also learnt that at the time they were crossing the river, there was heavy wind, all these might have been responsible for the mishap, we have been able to recover five bodies.”
But this did not stop angry youths from staging a protest which turned violent on Friday morning in which they accused community elders of spiritually causing the boat accident.
Three elders were left dead after the protest ended.
Speaking on the protest, Shawon said: “The civil defence (NSCDC) alerted me this morning that some youths were protesting. On (my) arrival in Gbajimba, I saw there was a protest as the youths made bonfire alleging that the incident has a spiritual connotation.
“Unfortunately, three elders were killed in the protest and the official vehicle of district head in the area was snatched.”
“I tried to calm them down. But they went wild pursuing every elder in the area. I then saw another group of Indian hemp smokers with machete parading the area, I reported the incident to the soldiers and mobile police who swiftly intervened and restored security to the area.
“It is a pathetic situation in the area. However, the youths are suspicious about the whole thing alleging that some elders are behind it but I don’t believed them because it is a case of overloading, over drunk and over speeding.”
The Benue State Police Command spokesman ASP Moses Yamu has confirmed the incident but said order had been restored.