No fewer than 20 persons were hacked to death in the early hours of yesterday when suspected Fulani gunmen invaded Ancha village, in Miango district, a community in the neighbourhood of Jos, Plateau State, leaving at least nine others severely injured in the wake of it.
This is even as the state’s Police Command has re-arrested and paraded, Ifeanyichukwu Maxwell Dike, the alleged ritual killer that escaped from police custody in Port Harcourt, River State, after raping and killing an eight year old girl for rituals.
Parading Dike, the outgoing state Police Commissioner, Peter Ogunyanwo said: “He had escaped from Port Harcourt after he was arrested for killing a girl for ritual purpose, leading to the dismissal of the Policeman that was guarding him, but he was rearrested today in a house in Barkin Ladi, here in Plateau State.”
Dike, who said he travelled to Jos in a lorry after escaping from Port Harcourt, added that he had spent three days in Plateau State before he was re-arrested.
An elated Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Zaki Ahmed, confirmed the arrest of Dike and has mobilised to ensure the return of the suspect to the state.
The attack on Ancha village, THISDAY gathered, brewed from a week of tension resulting from a misunderstanding between the natives and the Fulani residing in the community over the death of a Fulani boy.
The natives, who claimed innocence of the boy’s death, blamed it on cult activities. They had however appealed to the Fulani for calm, promising to investigate it. However, before the investigation could be completed, the Fulani who perhaps became hesitant pounced on Ancha, leaving at least 20 dead.
A villager in Ancha said the gunmen invaded the community at about 1:45 am when his kinsmen were fast asleep, and attacked the people randomly, adding that the attack lasted for over an hour without resistance from the community and the security men, until the gunmen completed their mission and disappeared into nearby hills.
Also speaking, President of Irikwe Development Association, Mr. Sunday Abdul, who confirmed that 20 persons were killed in the raid, said the association had condemned the killing of the Fulani boy and were already working hard to unearth the perpetrators before the sudden reprisal.
He said the Fulani boy was killed last week in what looked like a cult attack. “We immediately strongly condemned the act and got some of suspects arrested. This was further followed by a meeting with the security agents, the Fulani and the natives for reconciliation; the representatives in attendance assured us that they were going back to promote peace.
“But to our greatest surprise, some group of Fulani men swooped on Ancha village and killed 20 persons at once; this is one too many. Let’s even assume this is a reprisal, do you kill 20 for one?”
Meanwhile, condemning the attack, the Police Commissioner, who placed the death figure at 19, said they were suspected Fulani in reprisal, “who went from house to house killing innocent people.”
He said, the Fulani had written to the Police to complain that one of their boys was killed, beheaded and buried in a shallow grave in the bush, adding that the boy had ran away from home after committing a mischief, and that after three days his headless body was found in a nearby bush.
Ogunyanwo said the police quickly swung into action and arrested five persons in connection with the murder, but he did not expect anyone to take the laws in their hands to go on reprisal after reporting to the Police and investigations had commenced.
He said the police recovered 11 expended shells of 7.6mm ammunition and one live ammunition from the scene of the attack, adding that a complete unit of Police had been dispatched to the village to forestall further breakdown of law.
The re-arrested undergraduate of University of Port Harcourt escaped on Monday, August 21 after he was paraded by the police command and he had made confessional statement to journalists on the murder of eight-year-old Chikamso Victory for rituals threw the police in Rivers State into confusion.
Confirming the re-arrest of Dike, a 200-level Physics undergraduate of the University of Port Harcourt, the Public Relations Officer of the Rivers State Police Command, Mr. Nnamdi Omoni, stated that the command had launched a nation-wide manhunt leading to the success.
An elated Omoni said Dike was re-arrested by the police in Barkin Ladi community in Plateau State on Thursday.
Confusion had enveloped the Rivers State Command as a suspected ritual killer, Dike, escaped from police detention shortly after he was taken to the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Port Harcourt.
Twenty-three-year-old Dike was arrested at Eliozu Community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers on Saturday, August 19 by men of the Okporo Police Station.
The police had said Dike abducted one eight-year-old Chikamso Victory, his niece, with whose parents he was residing at the same address.
Nnamdi explained, “The little girl was abducted, defiled and killed, while her vagina, eyes, tongue and breast were removed and put in a polythene bag. The suspect was going to dispose off the body, when he was arrested by the local Vigilante that suspected his movement.”