Three persons were feared killed while 20 houses were razed during a clash between Tiv and Jukun youths at Feedi, opposite the Air Force base in Makurdi, the Benue State capital on Tuesday.
The communal clash was said to have been caused by two young men of Tiv and Jukun ethnic groups at a drinking joint within the Feedi market on Monday evening.
An eyewitness, Mr. Steven Angwe, said the quarrel reopened the prolonged land dispute between the two communities.
He said the crisis, which began at 3p.m. on Monday, persisted till 9a.m. on Tuesday forcing many residents to flee the area.
The state Governor, Samuel Ortom, who visited the scene of the incident around noon on Tuesday, said it was unfortunate to hear that the crisis started between the two young men at a drinking joint.
While calling on the fleeing residents to return home, the governor said that normalcy had returned and he called on the people not to take the law into their own hands.
He said, “Two wrongs cannot make a right.”.
Locals, who spoke to our correspondent, said that one dead body was found on Monday night while two other corpses were recovered on Tuesday.
According to the Sole Administrator, Makurdi Local Government, Mr. Luke Ahor, added that one person identified as Tsegba Terver was killed while five others were injured and had been taken to an undisclosed hospital.
“I learnt that the squabble started from an argument between a Tiv man and a Jukun man which snowballed to a crisis around 6pm. The people fought till the early hours of today (Tuesday). They went around burning houses,” Terver added.
The traditional ruler of Makurdi, Chief Sule Abenga, said, “I heard information yesterday (Monday)night that Jukun and and Tiv youths were fighting and I immediately reached out to security agencies.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Bashir Makama, said that only one person was killed but admitted that many houses were burnt down while 17 persons had been arrested.