By Denen Achussah
Member representing Katsina-Ala East, Jonathan Agbidyah (APC) has faulted Police report that the 14 persons, recently killed in Katsina-Ala, Katsina-Ala Local Government Area (LGA), Benue State are bandits.
On 20th June, 2021, the Benue State Police Command issued a statement that “at about 0130hrs more than fifty other gang members” invaded a police station in Katsina-Ala. The statement was signed by DSP Sewuese Anene, the command’s Public Relations Officer (PPRO).
Part of the statement reads: “Officers at the division who were already at alert engaged them in a gun duel and were able to subdue the bandits. Fourteen (14) of them were brought down during the exchange of fire while several others escaped with gunshot injuries. Operatives in the area are currently on the trail of suspects at large.”
Describing the incident as terrible, the state lawmaker said he got reliable information that there was no attack on the police station.
Beside, he said three of the 14 persons are “statutory elders” of his party that were picked after the party’s meeting in Katsina-Ala with Sam Ode, a 2023 All Progressive Congress (APC) gubernatorial aspirant.
Agbidyeh explainied that the first two elders were picked by “Ashe a Tyô,” a local security outfit while on their way to his house to eat after the meeting while he (Agbidyeh) handed the third over to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Katsina-Ala.
“On my way after the meeting, the Area Commander called and I went to his office with the man. I told the Area Commander that the Ashe a Tyô came to pick the man in my house and I refused to hand him over.
“It is not wise that they will come and arrest people when I am having meeting with them. And particularly that it was not even the police,” said Agbidyeh, adding that he eventually handed over the elder to the DPO following the Area Commander’s advice for “safe keeping.”
According to the Katsina-Ala East representative, having briefed his traditional ruler about the development and later the commissioner of Police and Security Adviser to the Governor, he “returned home, hoping that the matter will be treated. Then, on Sunday, very early in the morning, children of the three people called me that their parents have been killed. I said wao!
“I couldn’t believe it. When I got up, I heard the rumour that there was an attack on that police station. Then after three minutes, somebody called me reliably from Katsina-Ala that there was no attack. He is living around the Police station and was pipping through the window and seeing when they were carrying the old people and were killing them with other people. That the other people were accused persons in the police station.”
He denied ever gathering criminals in his house. “I only went for a political party (meeting) and we have pictures of people that were from Sam Ode’s house to that place. It was because of that meeting that I went to Katsina-Ala.
“And as a party leader, after the meeting they had to eat in my house. That was why they were there; they are not criminals. Except if they say APC members in Shitile axis are criminals. Maybe, that is it if not the meeting that went on in that place was not a militia meeting and nobody came out of my house (to attack a police station).
“I am sure if they had privilege information that I have assembled criminals to come and attack a police station, they would have gone to my house to search. Is it after the attack that you will say these criminals started moving from my house?
“I think I will not take it kindly with anybody who would want to destroy my reputation. I’ve earned a reputation for a very long time. I worked as a civil servant and rose to a position of a director, finance and accounts without any query; without anything (incriminating).
“I just joined politics in 2018. The foundation of all these people they were mentioning as criminals were there as far back as 1999 when Nigeria returned to democracy. Is it in 2018 that I became in charge of all the criminality? I am not the only person that won election in Katsina-Ala LGA neither did the Shitile people voted only Jonathan Agbidyeh. They voted in the presidential election, they voted in the senatorial election, they voted in the House of Reps election, they voted in the gubernatorial election and also voted for me. So, it means all those they voted for are founding criminality; if that is the meaning.”
Identifying the three elders as Ityavgba Vandeyua, Gwakaa Amadu and Imojime Iorkyaagba, Agbidyeh is emphatic that “I know that the three of them (elders) are among the 14 persons. So, if they (police) say the 14 are the people that came to attack them, and they gun them down it means that the three elders also came for attack?,” Agbidyeh queried.
He is afraid, that there is more to the incident than meet the eyes. “It is terrible because if the police can take people from me and say they are taking them for safe keeping and at the end of the day, they are killed, it’s terrible. There must be certain things behind it that I really don’t know,” he concluded.
Agbidyeh, who resigned from the civil service of the state in 2018 to contest the 2019 Katsina-Ala East State Constituency election warned that he will not take it kindly with anybody who would want to destroy his reputation.
“I’ve earned a reputation for a very long time. I worked as a civil servant and rose to a position of a director, finance and accounts without any query; without anything (incriminating),” he said.
Katsina-Ala is one of the LGAs in Benue north east that produced opposition (APP) chair at the return to democracy in 1999.
In the 2019 election, although PDP won the gubernatorial election, APC won the two constituency seats in the LGA. Pundits say PDP would want to win the local government, given the voter population in the area and it’s centrality in Sankera politics.
In the face of this, there are concerns that “Ashe a Tyô” may after all turn to be a political witch-hunt group. For instance, one party leader is named as the leader of the group in Katsina-Ala LGA.
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