President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday described as “one attack too many” the recent killings in Benue State, saying everything must be done to stop the attacks on innocent citizens.
Accordingly, he ordered security agencies to do whatever they can to arrest the culprits of the gory incident, with a view to averting further attacks.
He commiserated with Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom over the killings, injury of several persons and wanton destruction of properties in Guma and Logo local government areas of the state in the New Year.
A statement by his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, noted that the president expressed immense sadness at what he termed the “wicked and callous” attacks on even innocent children.
According to Shehu, President Buhari assured the governor and people of the state that relevant security agencies have been directed to do everything possible to arrest those behind the regrettable incidents and avert further attacks.
“This is one attack too many, and everything must be done to provide security for the people in our rural communities”, the presidential spokesman quoted the president as saying.
The statement made available to LEADERSHIP further noted that President Buhari commiserated with families of the victims and wished the injured speedy healing.
Police Arrest 8 Suspects
Meanwhile, the Benue State Police Command has arrested 8 herdsmen, 6 in Guma and 2 in Logo local government areas of the state, in connection with the attacks and killings in the two communities.
The state Police public relations officer, in a statement issued yesterday, said additional security personnel were deployed to the troubled area and its environs for monitoring to forestall further occurrence and to restore confidence in the minds of the people.
He explained that the suspects attacked Tomater village in Sengev Council ward, Akor village in Nzorov council ward and Bakin Kwata village in Umenger council ward of Guma local government.
He noted that a total of 17 persons, including seven members of Benue State Livestock Guards were killed, their vehicle burnt and an uncertain number of persons injured in separate attacks between Sunday and Tuesday this week.
In another development, the Police spokesman said the Agba-Uko near Azege village and Tse-Aga village of Logo local government area experienced the same fate where one person was killed, one motorcycle burnt and four persons injured, adding that all the injured from both local governments are currently undergoing treatment in various hospitals in the state.
Yamu disclosed that the command deployed five combined teams of mobile and conventional policemen to the scene in Guma led by the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, ACP Emmanuel Adesina and engaged the armed herdsmen in a gun duel, forcing them to retreat.
The PPRO also disclosed that the situation has been brought under control and investigation is ongoing.
State Assembly, Mark Express Sadness
Meanwhile, the Benue State House of Assembly has blamed the recent massacre of people in the state by Fulani Herdsmen on the inability of federal government to take threats by the Cattle Breeders Association serious.
Speaker of the House, Terkimbi Ikyange, stated this while reacting to Tuesday’s early morning attacks on some communities in Guma and logo local government areas of the state by Fulani militia, which left many people dead, several injured and properties worth billions of Naira destroyed.
The Speaker recalled that when the national leadership of the cattle breeders association under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, openly threatened to mobilise herdsmen across the country to oppose the implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition Law, the Assembly in a unanimous resolution called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector-General of Police to effect their arrest.
He lamented that in spite of the threats and subsequent reaction by the Assembly and Benue State government, no efforts were made by the presidency and other security operatives to prevent them from carrying out their well-planned Holocaust against the defenseless people of the state.
Mr. Ikyange described the attacks as barbaric and an affront on the rule of law, stressing that the resolve of Benue people to stop open grazing is unwavering.
He re-echoed the call for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the national leader of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore as a way of halting the renewed violence against Benue communities.
On his part, former president of the Senate, Senator David Mark, took stock of the renewed violent attacks in Benue, Rivers and Kaduna States and called for urgent and strategic approach to halt further tragedies.
Mark condemned the attacks on defenseless citizens in Benue, Rivers and Kaduna States, saying this “pogrom is reprehensible, barbaric and inhuman”.
In a press statement issued yesterday in Abuja by his media assistant, Mr Paul Mumeh, Mark lamented the unabating anarchy across the land and urged security operatives to rise up to the challenges and curb the menace.
He called for working synergy between and among security operatives to combat the worrisome situation.
He condoled with the governments and people of Benue, Rivers and Kaduna States over the heinous crimes, urging them to step up measures needed to protect lives and property.
A worried Senator Mark said, “No matter the anger in a man’s mind, resorting to violence or taking another person’s life can only aggravate the situation. There are enough channels of mediation including the courts and the legislature to address perceived or alleged misdemeanor.
“Nobody has a right to take another man’s life needlessly. The law must take its course and perpetrators must not go unpunished. This lawlessness must not continue. Security operatives must do the needful to fish out the perpetrators.
“Nigeria is a nation governed by law. Every citizen is a stakeholder and everyone has a right to life. Our governments must stand up for the people. Enough of this malady, we deserve to live in peace in our fatherland”.
Meanwhile, more corpses are being brought to Makurdi, the Benue State capital, a development that ignited a protest by angry youths who blocked the popular Wurukum roundabouts, preventing vehicular movement along the route in protest to the killings of over 50 Benue indigenes by suspected herdsmen in six Benue communities
The angry youths were said to have gone to remove corpses of dead victims of the attacks from the Benue State University Teaching Hospital mortuary and displayed them at the Wurukum roundabouts.
Security agencies in the state also had a hard time controlling the protest, as the angry youths adamantly threw stones at any security personnel who in turn threw tear gas randomly at the protesters.
The youths numbering over 1000 blocked the entry and exit point of Makurdi, leaving hundreds of commuters stranded for hours.
The protesters who carried placards with the inscriptions which reads: ‘President should stop Benue killing’, ‘we are tired of killing of our loved ones, ‘Fulani herdsmen must go’, made bonfire in strategeic areas of the city.
Speaking to journalists, national president Ihyerev Youth Association, Ben Titus Terna, decried what he called the nonchalant attitude of President Buhari over the senseless killings in the state, maintaining that it is grand conspiracy by him against Benue people.
“The President has remained adamant. We are defenseless and have resorted to defending ourselves. We will continue to stage this protest for seven days. We want the entire world and international community to come to our aid”, he said.
On hearing about the incident, Governor Samuel Ortom cut short the Security Council meeting and headed to the scene of the protest.
But all attempts by the governor to calm the angry youths proved abortive, as they grew wild and threw stones and sachet water at the governor and his entourage.
In a swift attempt to save the situation, security men whisked the governor out of the riotous scene in a hilux van, just as Police men shot live bullets and tear gas into the air to disperse the crowd.
Addressing Journalists at the banquet hall of Government House, after the tour, Governor Ortom expressed concern over the angst of the people but urged them to remain calm, even as he condemned the attack.
He assured them that government is proactive in securing lives and properties of the people, reiterating that there is no going back on the Anti-grazing law.
“There is no better alternative to the crises between farmers and herdsmen than ranching. I am appealing to the people not to engage in reprisal attack. I have called for additional security personnel in the state. Let us remain law abiding”, he noted.
Governor Ortom restated his earlier call on the security agencies to arrest the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautai Hore, which has persistently vowed to thwart the anti-open grazing law.
“They are sabotaging the law. The federal government should rise up to its responsibility of providing security of lives and property by arresting leaders of Miyetti Allah Kautai Hore. If they do not do this, then they are telling us that we are not part of Nigeria. They are trying to throw us into a state of anarchy. Which is unacceptable. Justice will take its course.
Tension In Nasarawa Border Communities
Meanwhile, there is growing tension in some border communities in Awe, Keana and Doma local government areas of Nasarawa State as a result of the killings in some communities in neighboring Benue State by men suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
Communities deserted by farmers mostly of Tiv extraction includes Boutsa, Demekaa, Ayoosu, Tunga, Kekura, Baure, Jangagare, Barkwonu, among other villages in Keana and Awe local government areas of the state, for fear of being attacked by the rampaging herdsmen.
As at yesterday, the natives of the communities were seen in droves escaping for fear of a likely attack by the herdsmen.
The farmers, LEADERSHIP correspondent gathered, are currently taking refuge at Keana South Primary School, Awe town and Kadarko in Keana local government area of the state.
Speaking to our correspondent on the development, the President of Tiv Youth Organisation in Nasarawa State, Peter Ahemba, regretted the untold hardship being experienced by his kinsmen as a result of the unfortunate development.
He pointed out that the harassment of Tiv people by herdsmen as a result of the implementation of anti-open grazing law by the Benue State government must not be allowed to continue, saying they have nothing to do with the anti-grazing law enacted in Benue State.
“Since the implementation of the anti-open grazing law by the Benue State government, the herdsmen have continued to harass our people here in Nasarawa State as if we are party to the decision of the state government”, he said.
On his part, the chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in Nasarawa State, Alhaji Mohammed Hussaini, said herdsmen in Nasarawa State have no problem with Tiv people in the state.
“The crisis is between Tiv and Fulani herdsmen in Benue State as a result of the implementation of the anti grazing law and we learnt that Tiv people started the crisis because they butchered herdsmen’s cows and the herdsmen retaliated. So, what has the crisis in Benue State got to do with Nasarawa State?” he quried.
He appealed to farmers and herdsmen in the state to always seek ways of resolving their disputes peacefully, just as he called on all Nigerians to be law-abiding, while respecting constituted authorities and shunning negative tendencies to promote peace in the society.
When contacted over the incident, the Nasarawa State Police Command Public Relations Officer, Kennedy Idirisu, confirmed the development but however said the farmers were leaving their homes due to apprehension, as there was no attack on their homes by the suspected herdsmen.
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