Edo masquerade groups clash leaves one dead, scores injured

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Igarra, the administrative headquarters of Akoko-Edo local government area of Edo State was bereft of its usual peace when two masquerades groups who came out to dance in the annual Ekuochi Festival clashed leaving one person dead while many others sustained various degrees of injuries.

The victim, a middle-aged man identified as Ajitwewunmeshe Emmah, popularly known as Lacombe was said to have been shot by unknown persons.

Among those who sustained injuries with machetes and axes was the Chairman, of Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC), in the locality, Chief Folorunsho Okomayin.

The incident which occurred Monday night, generated tension and pandemonium in the community, as  many shops in Ugbogbo part of Igarra shut their  business premises owing to the killing.

Some people however link the crisis to cult-related clash among rival groups in the area.

A member of the vigilante group in Igarra who asked not to be named, related that “after the annual Ekuochi Festival, there is always the merriment later in the evening when several masquerades and the young ones come back to town to continue the celebrations.

“On Monday, there were two masquerades that were permitted to come out, but a third one came and instead of the members carrying sticks, they came out with knives, axes and machetes.”

The source added that the free for all that followed left several persons injured and some hospitalized.

He however stated that normalcy was restored later that evening.

The paramount ruler of Igarra, HRH, Oba Adeche Saiki, confirmed the incident, adding that it was not unconnected with the Ekuochi Festival and cult clashes that is rife in the state.

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He said he personally reported the incident to the police and military operatives in the area.

He said, “It has some connection with Ekuochi and no doubt I believe that this issue of cultism also came into play.

“This Ekuochi festival was first banned and it was brought back after they reached some agreement to always be peaceful, and this is the third one. But I think we have to go back to square one about the banning, because it is an abomination for any masquerade to use its cane on an elder in the community.

“Immediately the news of the death got to me, I immediately reported to the police and the army. They are already working to ensure there is peace in the land.”