George Okoh in Makurdi
The security situation in Benue State is worsening by the day as unknown gunmen yesterday killed about 30 residents of Zaki Ibiam town in Ukum Local Government Area of the state.
The incident occurred around the Zaki Ibiam yam market.
Most of those killed were said to be traders and businessmen.
According to an eyewitness, the attack started around 2p.m., adding that “the gunmen stormed the yam market on about 12 Bajaj motorcycles and four Toyota Corolla cars and started shooting at anyone in sight.”
Several cars and a fuel station were also razed as pandemonium engulfed the area.
The eyewitness described the incident as a bloodbath.
When contacted, the state Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama, confirmed the killings but stated that the police were yet to ascertain the exact number of casualties.
Meanwhile, as the killings were going on, Governor Samuel Ortom was giving a run down of the security situation in state and measures taken by his government to bring an end to the invasion and attacks by herdsmen on innocent people of the state.
He stated that his decision to expel Fulani herdsmen in the affected areas of the state was to pave the way for Tiv farmers to continue their farming activities.
Ortom insisted that it was impossible for herdsmen and farmers to operate in harmony, pointing out that his administration would not fold its arms and allow people fall prey to foreigners and killers and it was his government’s responsibility to ensure security for the people
The governor further cautioned against confrontations as the herdsmen make their way out of the state, adding that the security operatives would ensure they move out safely to where they came from.
Also speaking with the residents, the state police commissioner, on behalf of other security agencies, called for caution among youths and urged them to restrain themselves from resorting to violence at the slightest provocation but to remain patient.
Makama promised that the security agencies would not relent in the discharge of their duties.