Former Benue Judge Killed Over Alleged Property Dispute, Suspects Confess

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By Daniel Edu

killers of retired President of the Customary Court of Appeal in Makurdi, Benue State, Justice Margaret Igbetar, have reportedly confessed to their involvement in her murder, citing a family land dispute as the motive.

Justice Igbetar was killed by unidentified gunmen on August 24, 2023, at her residence on Wantor Kwange Street, opposite the School of Medicine, Benue State University, Makurdi. Her remains were discovered several days later by a relative.

The Benue State Commissioner of Police, Batholomew Onyeka, paraded four suspects on Tuesday in connection with the retired judge’s murder. The suspects included the deceased’s nephew, Aondohemba Joseph, who was allegedly the ringleader, the deceased’s driver, a security guard, and another relative.

During the parade, Aondohemba Joseph confessed that they killed the retired judge because she allegedly held documents related to his father’s landed property and refused to release them. He claimed that he did not personally stab her, but it was carried out by Dzungwenen Ukor, another member of the gang.

Ukor, who admitted to stabbing the deceased, said he did so at Joseph’s request because Justice Igbetar had allegedly withheld documents related to Joseph’s father’s property.

The driver, Akuhwa Barnabas, revealed that he had been recruited as the judge’s driver just two months before the incident. He claimed that he was instructed to guard the gate during the crime, and he was promised compensation after the gang sold the property once they obtained the documents.

Commissioner Onyeka explained that the suspects were apprehended in Adikpo, Kwande Local Government Area, after Aondohemba Joseph confessed to planning and recruiting others to help him kill his aunt. The other arrested suspects, Igbazenda Gbidye and Dzungwenen Ukor, admitted their involvement, stating that they had joined Joseph to eliminate the deceased so he could gain access to his father’s property.

One of the suspects, Akuhwa Barnabas, corroborated their statements, confirming that he had allowed the gang access to the house and had guarded the gate until they had completed their actions.

The murder of Justice Margaret Igbetar highlights the tragic consequences of disputes over property and the need for peaceful resolution mechanisms to prevent such incidents.

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