Nine children, between the ages of two and ten, fleeing the renewed fighting that broke out Wednesday between the Fulani and Eggon tribes of Nasarawa state have drowned in the Guyaka River of Ughah in Assakio area of Lafia local government council of the state.
Confirming the incident to PREMIUM TIMES, Abdullahi Akye Magaji, the paramount ruler of Ugah, said the nine children were among 13 other kids attempting to escape the violence through the river.
Mr. Magaji explained that four of the children were rescued while the bodies of the nine others were yet to be recovered.
He said a decision was taken by the community to ferry the children across the river to save them from any eventuality as fighting raged.
“We decided to use the boat to ferry the children out of the community after trekking for over 21 kilometre into the night,” Mr. Magaji said.
“Unfortunately, the boat capsized and nine out of the 13 children drowned while four were rescued and none of the corpses of the drowned children have been recovered yet.
“I have reported the incidence to the government and equally requested them to help the survivors to Lafia, the state capital.”
The community leader added about five communities, including the headquarters of his chiefdom, Ugah, had been completely destroyed. The other communities he said were razed are Mankwar, Gallo, Shimeer, Umbwal,Alingani,
Mr. Magaji said the people of those communities were now taking refuge in Namu area of Shendam local government area of Plateau state.
He added that the people of Guyaka, the only remaining community that was only partly torched, had also relocated to Lafia, for fear of the unknown.
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer ( PPRO ) Umar Numan, said he is not aware of the incident but that he would revert whenever information on the matter become available.
Serious fighting had broken out between the Fulani and Eggon in the Tudun Adabu area of Obi local government of Nasarawa State on Wednesday.
According to the police, most houses in the areas were set ablaze while the towns were deserted.
The fighting is a spill-over of the killings that occurred between Monday and Tuesday around Assakio in Lafia local government and Bakyano in Nasarawa Eggon Local Government Area.
About 20 houses were burnt in Assakio on Tuesday while the resident of the paramount ruler, Osula Inarigu, was vandalised.
As tension enveloped the state for fear of reprisal attacks across communities where Fulanis and Eggons reside, the state police spokesperson, Ismaila Numan, confirmed the incident, but said information available to the police was still sketchy especially as it concerns casualty figures.
Mr. Numan however also said the town of Assakio, a few kilometres outside Lafia, had been deserted.
“Houses around the chief’s house have been set ablaze while the chief’s house was vandalised. We didn’t recover any corpse yet but the town has been deserted. The town is just like a ghost town,” he said.
At a press briefing Wednesday, the senior special assistant on public affairs to the Nasarawa State governor, Abdulhamid Kwarra, disclosed that communities in Akwanga, Nasarawa Eggon , Lafia, Obi and Wamba local government areas were enmeshed in crisis.
“The state has again been engulfed in security challenges in the past seventy two hours, which has led to some fatalities, and at the same time, displaced some persons,” he said.