In a concerning turn of events, youths from Ugondu community in Makurdi LGA of Benue State reportedly attacked the convoy of the Benue State Governor, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia, on Wednesday.
The incident occurred as the governor visited Vaatia College to assess preparations for the burial of the school's proprietor, Engr. Michael Vaatia.
The protest stemmed from the community's opposition to the burial of Engr. Vaatia within the school premises. As the governor's convoy approached, the irate youths hurled stones at the vehicles, expressing their discontent over the burial plans.
Reports learned that six of the protesting youths were subsequently arrested by the police for their role in pelting objects at the governor's convoy. The burial of Engr. Vaatia, who passed away recently, was scheduled to take place within the school premises on Thursday.
The situation escalated as the angry youths reportedly invaded the school, destroying the grave in the process. Chanting war songs, they disrupted proceedings, with security escorts trying to prevent them from accessing the school. Some members of the governor's entourage found themselves trapped outside.
Sources indicate that the protesting youths resorted to firing gunshots into the air, but the arrival of the police special unit, known as Operation Zenda, helped restore order, leading to the arrest of several individuals.
Governor Alia, in his address to leaders of Ugondu community, cautioned against actions that could sow discord and disunity in the state. He emphasized the need for cooperation and condemned the disruption caused by the protesting youths.
"I have come to correct some misgivings that happened in the rulership of your son as governor. I want to believe you, the traditional and community leaders, denying involvement in what has happened," Governor Alia stated.
He urged the community leaders to cooperate with the authorities and warned that any involvement in the unrest would be addressed. The governor reassured students on campus of their safety during and after the burial, directing the police to ensure peace during the wake-keep and burial.
As the situation unfolds, the ongoing reconstruction of the damaged grave by the irate Ugondu youths underscores the tensions surrounding the controversial burial, slated to take place on Thursday.