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Butchers at war: How politics among Edo butchers claimed 15 lives

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From Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin

Since last Tuesday, residents of Ikpoba area in city of Benin, Edo state capital have been living in fear following the bloody clash among butchers which led to the dead of 15 persons.
The butchers, whose trade may have apparently taken away the normal human feelings towards bloodletting descended on themselves like ferocious beings as they locked up in a bloody leadership tussle that resulted in the dead of some of them while many others sustained serious life threatening injuries.
Trouble started when rival groups disagreed on the process for the election of a new executive for Edo state chapter of National Butchers Union of Nigeria (NBUN) last Monday.
The clash was said to have started as early as 5 am that Monday when some young men armed with cutlasses clashed amidst gunshots following alleged moves by supporters of a chairmanship aspirant who was said to have been opposed to the conduct of the election.
It was gathered that the aspirant had mobilized his supporters to the venue on learning that the National President of the union, Chief John Adun had set up an interim committee for the purpose of conducting the branch election.
This was also as the out-going branch chairman, Sunny Omokaro who was seriously wounded in the fight had secured the approval of the state government to supervise the same election.
At the heat of the tussle, butchers descended on butchers, matchetes clash with matchers; gunfire returned by gunfire. At the end were tales of death, blood, tears and sorrow. Fifteen persons were killed while many others are now nursing their machete or gunshot wounds.
Since last Tuesday, there have been palpable fear and residents, especially those living at Ikpoba slope in Ikpoba-Okha local government area of the state, may be force to abandon their homes for safety.
On its own part, the Edo state Police Command has remained on high alert. This is especially as there are reports of sporadic shooting in the nights by some suspected butcher factions.
Investigations reveal that friction between the rival groups started with the setting up of a caretaker committee by the National Chairman, Chief John Osamde Adun to run the affairs of the union ahead of a substantive election of executives which was billed to hold on Saturday April 14, 2012.
A perceived move by the authorities to impose a candidate on the union may have aggravated the situation. While the friction continued Omokaro is insisting that, ‘Article 8 section 3 of the Butchers Union Constitution empowers the National President to play a supervisory role. But the same law does not allow him to influence or interfere on any election.
Omokaro alleged that those who attacked his group with gun and machetes included a task force chairman, whose name he did not mention.
However, refuting the allegation, Adun claimed that he was given a mandate by the state government to take over the union.
But another butcher, Ambrose Odigie gave a twist to the crisis. He said the controversial butchers union was illegal adding that those at the helm of affairs were oppressing the butchers with heavy levies. The crisis, he said was a protest against the self imposed leaders.
It was gathered that the interest of the two groups are stemming from who controls the daily revenue collection running into millions of naira generated by the union which is mostly dominated by women is largely responsible for the crises.

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