At least 19 people have been reported killed following an overnight attack by gunmen on Tawari community in Kogi Local Government Area of Kogi State.
Some residents of the community who narrowly escaped death alleged that the attackers could have been armed herdsmen.
Among those killed in the attack which occurred on Friday were the Chief Imam of the village, Zakari Salihu, and Tawari Ward Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ibrahim Simbabi.
The gunmen reportedly invaded the community at about 1am and opened fire on residents before setting houses, churches, and many properties ablaze.
Also touched were the oldest clinic established by the missionaries in the colonial era, and the official vehicle of the traditional ruler of the area – Aguma of Tawari, Idris Tawari – among others.
The state governor, Yahaya Bello, confirmed the incident in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Onogwu Muhammed.
He called for calm among the residents of Tawari town in Kogi/Koto Karfe Local Government Area of the state.
Governor Bello asked the security agencies to immediately investigate the incident and ensure that those who carried out the dastardly act were brought to justice.
He condemned the incident and warned that those with the intention to cause a crisis in the state would have themselves to blame.
The governor assured residents that his administration would do everything to protect their lives and properties.
The deputy governor of the state, Edward Onoja, also confirmed the incident to Channels Television in an interview.
He gave an assurance that the state government would unravel the cause of the attack, in order to prevent an escalation.
According to witnesses, a herder was killed and his body mutilated by suspected ritualists some times last year.
The herdsmen were said to have pointed accusing fingers at Tawari community and threatened a reprisal.
But persistent persuasions by the community head against a reprisal made the herdsmen lived with the indigenes of the community in peace until a few days ago when they started moving out en-mass.
Following Friday’s incident, a combined team of police and military personnel have been deployed in the community while the Commissioner of Police in Kogi was also on the ground to monitor the situation