By Jethro Ibileke
Death toll in the clashes between rival cult groups in Auchi, Edo State, has allegedly risen to seven, following the killing of two more persons in a reprisal attack on Monday night.
This is even as the Edo State Police Command confirmed the arrest of 58 suspects in connection with the cult clashes and the killings.
The fight began last week Wednesday between the Aye and Jurist confraternity groups, following a disagreement over some issues.
It was also gathered that four persons were hacked to death at Iyakpi, while one was killed in Auchi, the administrative headquarters of Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo state between Thursday and Sunday night.
Among the victims killed on Sunday night at different locations in the area, it was gathered were Sikiru Jeliu and one Irale Obas, said to have recently completed the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC).
The victims were allegedly killed in retaliation to the murder of the brother to the leader of one of the confraternity groups in the area.
A source at Auchi confirmed that two others were also hacked to death on Monday night at Iyakpi.
The source added that among the two was a female who was killed when cult group stormed the compound which she lived, in search of rival cult group member, said to be hiding there after carrying out an attack.
The State Police Command Public Relations Officer, DSP Chidi Nwanbuzor, who confirmed the development, added that 58 suspects have been arrested in connection with the incident.
Nwabuzor, however, declined mentioning the number of casualties, saying that the State Commissioner of Police, DanMallam Mohammed, has put adequate measure in place to arrest the situation.
“For now it is not wise to tell you that the figure is five, six or seven, because we are still gathering information as regards the clash and it could still increase within the next one hour.
“We have arrested a total of 58 suspects and more are still being searched for. As soon as we get them, we shall bring them to justice,” Chibuzor said.
Meanwhile, the management of Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi, has denied reports that the federal institution has been shut over cult-related killings.
Rumours had been making the rounds in the State, that the polytechnic was shut, following unrelenting cult clashes in the town.
But, reacting to the rumors in a statement, the Spokesman for the Institution, Musa Oshiobugie, said the students were already on vacation.
Oshiobugie who said the cult killings and violence occurred at Iyakpi, a community of about two kilometres away from Auchi, added that no student of the institution had been killed or injured in the violence.
“The polytechnic has been on holiday for the past one week when the students finished their examinations and the hostels were vacated.
“A school already on holiday cannot be shut. What appears to drive this rumour is a reported violent incident that occurred in Iyakpi, a town two kilometres from Auchi.
“Preliminary reports show that no student of the polytechnic is among the reportedly dead people,” the statement said.
Similarly, the Dean, School of Evening Studies (SES), of the Polytheistic, Dr. Shaibu Alasa, also debunked allegation of closure of the institution.
Alasa, in a circular he issued to all staff and students of SES, described the rumor as “unfounded, baseless and untrue.”
“The School of Evening Studies Examination Timetable is out and examination commences on 2nd October, 2019 and ends on the 22nd of October, 2019. All staff and students are by this circular advised to be in attendance at lectures and examination,” the statement said.