Governor of Benue State, Mr. Gabriel Suswam
By George Okoh
Over 50 persons have been reported killed and property worth millions of Naira destroyed by Fulani herdsmen in a renewed attack on Tiv communities in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State.
The crisis, which has taken a dangerous dimension, is also gradually creeping into Makurdi town with scores of refugees fleeing the crises area into the town.
THISDAY gathered that the areas hardest hit by the renewed attack include Tiv settlements at Dooga, Kpata, Lokobi Ajimaka, Ekeae, Giza, Yogbo and Mbagwem communities.
It was also gathered from an eyewitness, who fled the fighting with his wife and children from Kpata village, Mr. Tyopine Agar, that the number of the dead could exceed the figure, stressing that as many as over 350 persons are yet to be unaccounted for.
According to him, "many of our people were in the farms when the crisis erupted and up till now no one knows their whereabouts".
Agar alleged that the herdsmen who were assisted by the Alagos residing on the border of Benue and Nasarawa States in Doma town laid siege on their villages, shooting and burning their houses and property.
Moved by the level of devastation in the communities, Speaker of the Benue House of Assembly, Hon. Dave Iorhemba, who paid an unscheduled visit to some of the refugees who were camped at the LGEA Primary School Kadarko lamented the recurrent attack on the Tiv communities by the herdsmen.
Iorhemba, who urged the people to remain calm regretted the insensitivity of the Nasarawa State Government to the plight of the victims of the attack also called on the Benue and Nasarawa state governments to take decisive steps to check the carnage.
He also implored the two states to act on the recommendations of the peace committee set up by the states by releasing a white paper on the findings of the panel set up last June to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the crisis.
He said: “Aside being the Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, the people affected in these skirmishes are my constituents and Tiv communities affected in Nasarawa State have contributed in no small measure to the socio-political development of the state and therefore deserve the protection of the state government.”
"What is happening is rather unfortunate and heart rendering. On the part of the Benue State government we have already started releasing relief materials to the displace people but unfortunately no such assistance is coming from the Nasarawa State Government", the Speaker said.
He also called on the National Emergency Management Agency to step in with the relief materials to the displaced who are in their thousands.
Iorhemba further called on the two state governments to create grazing routes for the herdsmen to forestall further destruction of farmlands of the communities and the consequent bloodbath.
Reacting to the matter, the Village Head of Dooga, one of the ravaged villages, Zaki Tsashaku lamented the level of devastation in the communities just as he called on the Benue and Nasarawa state governments to jointly deploy security personnel to the affected communities before the crisis escalates into major towns of both states.