A horrifying incident unfolded at the Nkwanta Central Market early yesterday morning when armed assailants unleashed a barrage of gunfire on unsuspecting residents, leaving eight dead and numerous others injured. The attack also resulted in the destruction of properties, prompting residents to abandon the town for their safety.
Eyewitnesses recounted the chaotic scene as the assailants, yet to be identified, opened fire without warning, plunging the Nkwanta Central Market into a state of panic. The casualties included a police officer and five others who sustained critical bullet wounds and are currently receiving medical attention at the Nkwanta St. Joseph Catholic Hospital.
The Oti Regional Minister, Joshua Gmayenaam Makubu, confirmed the grim toll in a statement to the media. The region has been marred by tribal conflicts involving the Adele, Challa, and Akyode ethnic groups, primarily centered around land litigation issues. Recent tensions escalated due to disputes over a Yam Festival organized by the Akyode people in Nkwanta, leading to renewed clashes.
Despite efforts by the Oti Regional Security Council to mediate and resolve the underlying issues, the town has been unable to find lasting peace. In response to the latest attack, Mr. Makubu revealed that the Security Council has deployed personnel to investigate the root cause of the violence. They have also engaged with local chiefs and opinion leaders to encourage residents to lay down their weapons and restore order.
To maintain peace and ensure the safety of residents, both police and military personnel have been deployed in the affected area. However, acknowledging the severity of the situation, the Minister for the Interior, Ambrose Dery, on the advice of the Oti Regional Security Council, has imposed a curfew on the Nkwanta township. The curfew, effective Tuesday, November 21, will be enforced from 5 pm to 6 am.
In a statement, the Interior Ministry warned that all individuals in Nkwanta and its environs are prohibited from carrying arms, ammunition, or any offensive weapons during the curfew hours. Violators will face arrest and prosecution, according to the Minister. As investigations unfold, the community is left grappling with grief and fear, hoping for swift resolution and a return to normalcy.