Abimbola Akosile in Lagos, John Shiklam in Kaduna, George Okoh in Makurdi, and Victor Ogunje in Ado-Ekiti
Gunmen suspected to be herdsmen, saturday, attacked two villages in Birnin Gwari Local government area of Kaduna state, killing 10 people. Several others were said to have sustained injuries from gunshots and were rushed to the General Hospital in the area.
The attacks were said to have occurred in Dangaji and Ungwan Gajere villages on Friday night and lasted till Saturday. The gunmen were said to have burnt down houses as the villagers fled for their lives.
A community leader in one of the villages told journalists yesterday in the evening that the villagers had fled their homes. He said “it is unfortunate that since on Friday night we encountered the attack of herdsmen in Dangaji village. They were shooting and burning houses and people had to run for their dear lives.
“This morning (Saturday) they went to another village, Unguwan Gajere and killed about nine men. One of those wounded died on the way to the hospital”, he added.
According to him, “soldiers tried to get to the affected areas, but before they could get there, the herdsmen had disappeared”.
The community leader said besides the attacks, there had been cases of kidnapping in the area. He said last week, three people from Dangaji community were kidnapped and the kidnappers demanded for a ransom of N6 million from the community. However while confirming the incident, the spokesman of the Kaduna state police command, Husseini Mukhtar said five people, mainly members of the vigilantes, were the ones killed.
He said a combined team made up of the police and the military was being put together to launch a manhunt for the criminals.
Meanwhile, two persons lost their lives saturday in a skirmish in Makurdi in an incident involving some hoodlums as violent protests continued in Benue State over the recent killings by herdsmen, which resulted in the loss of 73 lives.
The action of the hoodlums involving the latest casualties drew strong condemnation from the state government, even as Governor Samuel Ortom has appealed for calm from the protesting youths.
According to an eyewitness, trouble started on Saturday around the Wadata area of Makurdi town when some youths were protesting the killing of their friends during the recent herdsmen attack but they were prevented by some hoodlums who attacked them.
The situation worsened when two of the protesting boys were allegedly hacked down by the hoodlums and the skirmish escalated, leading to the burning of cars and houses in other areas in the capital.
When contacted, the Public Relation Officer of the Police (PPRO) Moses Iyamu said the police were still investigating the causes of the latest crisis. He denied knowledge of any death as a result of the skirmish.
Meanwhile, Governor Ortom has condemned the protests in parts of the state capital and directed the State Commissioner of Police to restore order in the affected places.
The governor appealed to residents to remain calm and report any breach of peace to security agencies for necessary action. He said the state has suffered too many losses in terms of human life and property and cannot afford another round of crisis.
Ortom also directed the Police to arrest those who cause trouble whoever they are, to investigate the causes of the protests, and prosecute those responsible for breach of the peace.
He assured Benue people that efforts would be intensified with the collaboration of the relevant security agencies to restore peace and order to all parts of the state.
In a related development, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bamidele Faparusi has appealed to the governors not to frustrate the federal government’s plan to establish cow colonies in the 36 states of the federation, as the clashes between herdsmen and farmers continue across some states.
Faparusi, a former member of the House of Representatives, bemoaned the killings in Benue, Taraba, Adamawa and few other states in recent time, describing the situations as not only pathetic but tragic.
The APC governorship aspirant in Ekiti State commiserated with President Buhari, the Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, and all Nigerians on the killings, which he said was fast becoming a pogrom.
The federal government had last week after the Benue’s gruesome killings proposed the establishment of cow colonies in all the states, which governors Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Samuel Ortom (Benue) and many others had stoutly rejected.
In a statement in Ado Ekiti on Saturday, Faparusi said the governors’ rejection of the proposed cow colonies may exacerbate “the murderous activities of these killers across the country.
“Cow colonies remain a potent weapon to really cage these vampires. It remains a good option to restrict the herders, monitor them and make it easy for governments to get their accurate data bank for effective identification of their personalities.
“The reason why it has been a herculean task for the security agencies to track the killers has been that they were itinerant herders. They have no base and their identities could not be ascertained.
“With the colonies, it will be easy for the government at all levels to monitor the herdsmen. This will build communal relationship between the herders and land owners, even farmers. Let me also say, this country is losing several billions of naira in its dairy potential daily, because the itinerant herdsmen pay little attention to milk production. “This policy will help in boosting our economic gains in animal husbandry sector and stop unnecessary carnage being witnessed in our national history”, he said.
Faparusi, also described as misdirected venom, sarcastic comments ascribed to some chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party, including former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode and former Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Mike Omokri, branding the president a failure over the Benue killings.
He added that as much as he was averse to senseless killings of innocent Nigerians under any guise, he stated that President Buhari didn’t give any overt or tacit supports to these suspected Fulani herdsmen.
He said it was wrong and equally flies in the face of commonsense for politicians to hide under the cloak of opposition to criticize a performing government destructively.
He urged the PDP to appreciate Buhari’s efforts in the areas of wars against corruption, insecurity and bailouts, Paris Club funds and budget support funds being released to states to ease salary payment.
“Not even a despot like Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin Dada and Sanni Abacha will be happy seeing innocent citizens being mowed down by senseless people, so President Buhari was not complicit in any form. This issue remains a national calamity and we should all join hands together to combat it”, Faparusi advised.