Seriki Adinoyi in Jos and George Okoh in Makurdi
Seven persons have been killed and two policemen declared missing in separate attacks on communities in Benue and Plateau states.
While three people were killed and two policemen were missing in the attack in Benue State, four were killed in Plateau State by gunmen.
The attack in Benue occurred in Jootar, a border settlement between the state and Taraba State and was said to have been carried out by people suspected to be Jukun militia.
According to a resident of the area, the militia stormed the border community about 4.00 a.m. yesterday through Wukari in Taraba State and started shooting sporadically.
The source added that the latest attack came without any provocation, confirming that at least three Tiv farmers lost their lives, while over 100 houses were also raised down.
He added that the militia operated unchallenged for about three hours despite the presence of the federal government’s Special Forces in Wukari, two kilometres away from the attacked community.
Reacting to the incident, Ukum Local Government Caretaker Chairman, Hon. Tortyokaa Ibellogo, condemned the attack, describing it as most unfortunate.
He wondered why the militia would cross over to Benue where there was no crisis, adding that Tiv farmers in Benue were not at war with the Jukun people.
“To the best of my knowledge, this is supposed to be a crisis between the Tiv and the Jukun people in Taraba State and has nothing to do with Benue. In my state, Benue, we have Jukun in Abintse and Wurukum in Guma and Makurdi living peacefully with the Tiv people.
“I want to call on the Inspector General of Police (IG), Chief of Army Staff and President of Nigeria to as a matter of urgency intervene in this crisis. Already, we are trying to maintain a social distancing in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected Benue, Nigeria and the entire world,” Ibellogo said.
Jootar was attacked in July last year by suspected Jukun militia who killed four persons.
Benue State Police Command confirmed the attack on Jootar.
According to the state police spokesman, ASP Sewuese Anene, three unidentified corpses have been recovered while two officers on duty in the area are yet to be found.
“Investigation is still in progress,” she said.
In Plateau State, gunmen again struck on Tuesday night, killing at least four persons in Bassa Local Government Area of the state.
THISDAY gathered that no fewer than six others were left with various degrees of injuries and many houses were burnt.
In the last two weeks, gunmen have attacked the Irigwe chiefdom in the Bassa area, killing scores of people.
The most recent one occurred in Gbra-Zongo village which the gunmen invaded, killing four people while six others escaped with bullet wounds.
Chairman of Maingo Youth Development Association, Mr. Nuhu Nkali, said the mode of the attack was not different from the previous ones.
“In this attack, four persons were killed, including a clergyman, Pastor Mathew Tagwai and a 10-year-old boy. The attack started at about 7:56 p.m, lasting till the early hours of yesterday.
“The gunmen had a field day because there were no security men on the ground to repel them. The soldiers in the community were withdrawn about one month ago after two of their men were killed,” he said.
He listed the deceased as Tagwai, 34 years; Mr. Did Sunday, 21 years; Mr. Duh Abba, 38 years and Ishaku Abba, 10 years.
A resident of the village, Mr. Chayi Biri, who also confirmed the attack, said he narrowly escaped.
“The gunmen were in black attires. They came close to my room but God helped me to escape narrowly,” he added.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Gabriel Ubah Ogaba, who also confirmed the killings, however, said that the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Isaac Akinmoyede, had directed the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations to address the security challenge in the affected community.
Ogaba said: “Four were killed at the village. The Commissioner of Police has directed the Assistant Commissioner in charge of Operations to deploy more men in Bassa in order to make the place calm and effect arrest.
“The command is investigating the case and we solicit for useful information from the community to make an arrest.”