Ogbe-Ijoh, Agbassa youths clash over revenue collection in Warri

Tension, on Wednesday, engulfed oil-rich city of Warri for close to three hours, as youths from Ogbe-Ijoh community and Agbassa, an Urhobo extraction, clashed over collection of revenues from shop owners and traders at Ogbe-Ijoh Market, in  Warri South Local Government Area of the state.

No casualty was recorded while the mayhem lasted, but when Metro got to the scene of the clash, traders were seen locked outside the gate of the market.

Banks and courts located in the area, for fear of attacks, resorted to providing skeletal services amid tight security.

From Ginuwa junction on the ever-busy Warri-Sapele Road to Warri Main Market, sporadic gunshots rent the air.

A pandemonium ensued as traders on the road closed shop, while road users made brisk U-turns to avert being caught in the melee.

Hoodlums allegedly took advantage of the melee to steal wares of shop owners while parents hurried to nearby primary school to withdraw their children for fear of being caught in the web.

At the shut market, Urhobo traders were barred from gaining access to the market which front and back gates had been put under lock.

Scores of respondents, who spoke with Metro, said the crisis between the youths was on the instance of an alleged court judgment over the disputed land where the Ogbe-Ijoh market was situated, which was ruled in favour of Agbassa community of Agbarha-Warri kingdom on Monday.

The case was said to have lingered in the court, but its verdict on Monday allegedly infuriated Ogbe-Ijoh youths, who took to dangerous weapons to hinder execution of the court order.

Meanwhile, it took the combined efforts of soldiers drafted from 3 Battalion, Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy and the Nigeria Police anti-crime patrol team from A-Division to quell the mayhem and avert bloodshed.

Area Commander, Warri Area Command, Muhammed Mu’azu, who spoke with Metro, said his men had to quickly storm the area at about 9.33 a.m. and had brought the tension under control.

He added that the police was having a meeting with the warring factions to avert further violence.

On his part, chairman of Warri South Local Government Area, Mr Mofe Matthew Edema, assured residents that the area was calm, saying: “I am aware of the matter. I am in a security meeting.”

Police Public Relations Officer, Delta State, Celestina Kalu, said on phone that the skirmish had been put under control, but warned parents to prevail on their children and wards to shun violence.

As of the time of filing this report, the meeting being held with representatives of the two communities by the Warri Area Command was still in progress.