Palpable fear gripped residents of Benin City, Edo State capital, as the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) who was shot alongside two other police officers at Upper Sokponba Road on Friday morning was feared dead.
The ACP, who until the unfortunate incident, was an Area Commander in the Edo State Police Command, was shot at as the cult combatants sighted the vehicles conveying him and others to the troubled spot
Benin City has for a weeklong now been under siege as two deadly rival cult groups, Aye and Eiye, engaged in battle of supremacy in the ancient city.
With the killing of a young man on Silouko Road, Friday evening, an estimated 28 young men have been cut down in the crossfire between the two cult groups.
A source told Sunday Tribune that the ACP died on Saturday morning at an undisclosed hospital due to the fatal injury inflicted on him.
Upper Sokponba and Murtala Mohammed Way areas of the state capital have remained the flash points of violence since the October 19 highjack of the #EndSARS protest by some hoodlums, who burnt down all the police stations in the area and also broke the two Correctional Centres in the city.
Corpses of victims of the renewed bloody rival cult war became common sights on the roads and streets of the flashpoints, with many families and homes in mourning moods.
In the battle for supremacy, Friday and Saturday have been the most bloody as not fewer than 10 victims have been mowed down in the wake of the reprisal attacks between members of the Eye and Aiye cults, with the third group, the Arubaga otherwise known as Vikings confraternity, coming into the fray in solidarity with one of the warring parties.
The development led to the closure of business premises, market, schools and banks along the Upper Sakponba, Ugbekun, Murtala Mohammed Way and Idogbo areas of the capital town on Thursday and Friday.
While residents of the areas have since abandoned their homes for fear of being targets of the blood thirst rival groups, Siluko, Ugbowo, Dumex and a the part of Upper Sokponba Road leading to Sapele Road, had become a shadow of their former boisterous selves as social life came to a sudden halt, with most residential houses becoming deserted.
A devastated father of one of the victims, Mr. Etinosa Osifo, narrated his agony thus: “I was in the house yesterday (Friday) when two boys came and called out my son; before you know what was happening, they had killed him. That was how saw it. I don’t know whom to meet for help over my pains and predicament now. He is gone.”
Efforts to get the state commissioner of Police, Mr. Johnson Kokumo, to confirm the reported death of the ACP failed as calls to his phone remained unaswered.
Same was with the the Police Public Relations Officer of the state command, Mr. Chidi Nwabuzor, who could also not be reached for comments on the developments as he did not answer calls to his phone.