Suspected Herdsmen Kill 14 in Benue, Nasarawa Communities

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  • Ortom describes attackers as terrorists

George Okoh in Makurdi and Emmanuel Ukumba in Lafia

Fourteen persons were wednesday killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Benue and Nasarawa State.

In Benue State, the killing occurred when the armed Fulani militia invaded Gbeji town in Ukum Local Government Area killing six residents and burning several houses.

According to a resident, Mr. Uhimbe Gbeji, the Fulani militia came and took the villagers unaware at around 6p.m. and opened fire on them.

He said when the people started recovering from the initial shock and were putting up resistance, the militias hurriedly left with a number of casualties and several property damaged

Another member of the community and former Majority Leader in the state House of Assembly, Mr. Sylvester Atachin, put the figure of those killed at six.

According to him, those whose body had been recovered so far included Mtserkyaa lgbugh, Kananfa Amarfu, Tyavyar Akau,Orfega Hiikyaa, Kanyitor Uor and a passer-by aged around 75 whose identity is yet to be ascertained.

He disclosed that two trucks of riot policemen have arrived in the town and are patrolling the area and it’s environ.

Similarly, in Guma Local Government Area, herdsmen also attack and killed three persons in Urmenger. The victims were ambushed by the herdsmen while returning from their arms. The state Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, has confirmed the killings in Ukum and Guma but he however said four bodies had so far been recovered.
He said the attacks were carried out by suspected herdsmen.

Reacting to the attacks in the state, Ortom described Fulani militia as an extension of the terrorism perpetrated by Boko Haram.
He said the manner in which the armed men invade communities of the state and slaughter innocent people was not different from the mindless acts of Boko Haram in the North-eastern part of the country.

“They come with sophisticated weapons and kill people, machete them and chase them away,” he narrated.
The governor said it was equally disturbing in the pattern of attacks by the armed militia is their trademark of occupying communities after killing and sacking the inhabitants.

“In some cases, they do not have the herds. They just come with their weapons, kill and chase the people out and take over the land and that is the worrisome part of it,” the Ortom stressed.

He condemned the recent attacks by the armed men on Gwer West Local Government Area of the state which left many people dead and property worth millions of naira destroyed.

The governor said the trend of attacks on Benue State was beyond mere grazing of livestock, arguing that if the invaders were only interested in grazing, the massive destruction of lives and property would not have been their priority.

He emphasised the need for greater security presence in parts of the state known to be flashpoints in order to avoid further loss of lives and worsening humanitarian crisis with over 170,000 internally displaced persons in various camps across the state.
Ortom also called on the people in the state to protect and defend themselves against the brutal killings by the herdsmen.

In Nasarawa State, four persons were reported killed in one of the attacks when suspected herdsmen invaded Kadarko town in Keana Local Government Area of the state, leaving unspecified number of persons with various degrees of injuries from gunshots during the attack.
An eyewitness account said market activities were forced to close down abruptly yesterday afternoon following sporadic shooting by the gunmen as people scampered for safety.

The attack came barely four months when armed gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen invaded Kadarko at midnight, killing nine persons and injuring scores.

The eyewitness said the gunmen had attacked the Kadarko town at noon of yesterday and shot sporadically where they cut off a young man’s hand, simply identified as Inyogun, and hurriedly fled before the arrival of security operatives stationed in the area.
He stated that the security operatives had engaged the attackers in a gun duel where heavy gun shots were heard at the outskirt of Kadarko town where the attackers were traced by security the operatives after the incident was reported.

According to the eyewitness, “At the last count, no fewer than four persons, including an aged women, have lost their lives in the midday attack carried out by the suspected AK 47-wielding Fulani marauders who also set some houses on fire, but were however repelled by security operatives when they were trying to gain entrance into the market square.”

Similarly, one person was reportedly killed while two others were seriously injured at Tse Underah village in Kenje district of Awe Local Government Area of the state, when suspected armed Fulani gunmen attacked the area at about 9:30 p.m last Monday.

A former councilor in the council area, Hon, Kureve, told THISDAY on a telephone conversation that the attackers invaded the village at about 9:30p.m. when most of the villagers had gone to bed.

He said apart from the one person that was killed, two others escaped with severe gunshots and were being treated at a hospital in Awe town.

Consequently, the former councillor called on the state government to prevail on security agents to end the killings.

When contacted for comment, the state Police Command Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Idirisu Kennedy, THISDAY on telephone that he was busy in a meeting and would get back to him in two hours’ time as at the time of filling this report.