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BLOODY DAY..How a bag of rice caused massacre at Seme border

Posted by By Chris Anucha on 2006/02/09 | Views: 817 |

BLOODY DAY..How a bag of rice caused massacre at Seme border

Although normalcy has returned to Seme border, after Nigerians and nationals of Benin Republic clashed last week, victims are counting their losses.

Although normalcy has returned to Seme border, after Nigerians and nationals of Benin Republic clashed last week, victims are counting their losses.

Indeed, family members and friends of Shuaibu (not his real name) who was killed in the clash, are still mourning.
Telling a story of Shuaibu, a native of Kogi State, his friend Haruna said the deceased unwillingly accepted to go to Seme border in January, 2005, to earn a living by smuggling goods across the border for traders at an agreed fee.

"He was getting used to the rough life at the border and had started saving some money to enable him to start petty trading at the end of this year," Haruna told Daily Sun as he broke down in tears.

But that dream died a natural death at about 1pm, January 30, during a clash between some Nigerians and Beninois, at the Seme border. He was among the 10 persons killed during the crisis.

What could have led to the crisis, which resulted in blood-letting and wanton destruction of property? The answer is simple. Investigations revealed it was a bag of rice.
This was further confirmed during the visit to the crisis zone by the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. Emmanuel Adebayo and officers of other security agencies at the border.

The visit offered them an ample opportunity to meet with their Beninois counterparts, to assess the extent of damage and to restrain the restive youths from wreaking further havoc. The customs, Immigration Service and other security agencies from both countries, were duly represented at peace/security meeting that was to take place later.

At the meeting, participants were shocked to hear that it was the theft of a bag of rice that triggered the crisis which sent 10 persons to their early graves and caused the damage of 60 vehicles. Investigations revealed that a Nigerian stole a bag of rice from a trader, and was arrested by Beninois security agents. He was later released, but Beninois youths, who wanted a pound of flesh from the suspect did not find his release funny.

It was alleged that some Nigerian youths, who came to effect the release of the suspect assaulted a security man from Republic of Benin in the process. Consequently, a Beninois soldier fired two shots, killing a Nigerian at their border post.

"That was how the crisis escalated. When the Nigerian youths saw that it was a Nigerian that was shot dead, they became violent and wanted to avenge his death," a source at Seme border said.

A visit to the border showed that normalcy has returned to the area, but the scars left behind by the mayhem are glaring and the wounds inflicted on individuals, whose means of livelihood were destroyed, would take time to heal. There was heavy presence of security men, especially mobile policemen from MOPOL 20 and 22, led by Mr. Paul Okafor, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), to maintain law and order in the area. There were also the Federal Highway border patrol and mounted troop, among others.

" The commissioner of police charged them to maintain law and order and to ensure that the youths were restrained from causing further damage," the police spokesman, Mr. Olubode Ojajuni(DSP) told Daily Sun.

He said that commercial activities had picked up at the border, while youths from both sides had renewed their friendship, which he said, was temporarily distorted. Ojajuni said the immediate restoration of peace in the area was due the mature way the security agencies from both countries handled the situation.

At the peace/security meeting, brokered and facilitated by Nigeria’s Defence attaché/Adviser to Republic of Benin, Colonel D.D Kitchner, some decisions were taken to ensure a harmonious co-existence among youths from both countries.

Present at the meeting were Col. DD Kitchner, who served as the chairman; Area ‘E’ commander, FESTAC; Mr. G. Obi (ACP); the Divisional Police Officer(DPO) in charge of Seme border, Mr. Emmanuel Ighodalo (Ag. CSP), the commander, joint border patrol, Seme, Mr. S. Bada (DSP); Mr. Maitama Kura Isyaku(DCC) who represented Seme Customs Area Commander, the head of
Immigration control post; Mr. M. Ogidan (DCI); the Director of Cotonou police, Satzono Lucier, officer in charge of Krake; Mr. Hoonfoo Bamain, the Chief Brigade, Donaise; Lt col. Affo- Coffi and a host of Nigerian and Beninois senior officers, cutting across different security agencies.

It was agreed at the meeting that youths from both countries should not be allowed to jeopardize the security efforts of both countries. They recommended the closure of the garage on the Beninois side, where the crisis emanated from, ban on the use of kelebes/touts at the border, as they have always undermined security in the border area.

Also, recommended was the setting up of a security committee, to handle issues of security as they arise and that Republic of Benin joint border patrol unit should be made functional, to complement the efforts of their Nigerian counterparts, as was originally designed by the two countries.

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Comments (3)

Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown