Armed Edo youths, traders clash over stolen beer

One person was on Wednesday feared dead when some youths, suspected to be cult members, clashed with some traders at the Ekiosa Market in Benin, Edo State.

No fewer than six other persons were reportedly injured during the fracas.

But the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Johnson Kokumo, said no one was killed during the clash.

“Nobody was killed. No single death (was recorded),” Kokumo told our correspondent on the telephone.

It was learnt that the incident occurred around 1.30pm at the Third Junction part of the market, in the Oredo Local Government Area of the state.

It was gathered that one of the youths, identified only as Osaze, had accused a trader of  stealing three bottles of beer from a bar.

But the trader, identified as Abubakar, was said to have denied the allegation.

It was learnt that Osaze, however, insisted that he (Abubakar) must return the ‘stolen’ drinks or get beaten by youths in the area.

Our correspondent also learnt that some Hausa traders at the market pleaded in vain with Osaze to let the matter go.

An earlier attempt by some armed youths mobilised to attack the Hausa traders was reportedly foiled by policemen from the Esigie Police Division.

But the youths were said to have returned as the police presence reduced.

They allegedly inflicted injuries on some of the traders.

One of the victims, identified only as Salisu, was said to have been rushed to a hospital following a deep cut he sustained in the head.

The situation was said to have grounded commercial activities as other traders and passersby fled.

When visited the scene, operatives from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad were sighted around the market.

A trader, Muhammad Bashiru, who claimed to be a cobbler, said the attack was a surprise because Osaze was well known in the market.

“Sometimes, he comes to beg for money for food; we give him between N100 and N200. But he threatened to call hoodlums  and people begged him.

“He said a Hausa boy stole three bottles of beer. When he threatened to call his boys, we thought he was joking.

“But later, we saw some boys coming with guns. When the police saw the guns, they started running. We begged the police to assist us with their guns if they intended to run away, but they refused.

“After they (policemen) left, the boys came back and used machetes to attack us. We used planks to defend ourselves. They said they would set our shops ablaze,” he said.

One of the injured traders, Muhammed Abdullahi, said, “They threw bottles at me. One of them took my phone away.

“The boys came back again and inflicted a deep cut in the head of a man. The man may die because of the amount of blood he lost.”

The commissioner of police described the incident as a “street fight.”

Kokumo said, “Two people were involved in a street fight with their individual supporters and arrests were made. Two persons were arrested.”