Paul Obi in Abuja, George Okoh in Makurdi and Daji Sani in Yola
In spite of security deployment by the federal government to prevent further attacks by Fulani herdsmen on communities in Benue State, there was a fresh attack yesterday in which several people were killed. The latest attack was reported in Ukemberagya and Tswarev wards, in Gaambe-Tiev Logo Local Government Area of the state.
Similarly, herdsmen attacked six villages of Tambo, Tambo Jumo, Luru, Bakule, Jifan, and Bakopi in Girei Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Friday night, killing 10 persons, while several others were injured and houses and valuables were destroyed.
The Nigerian Bar Association and Nigeria Union of Journalists condemned the killings and destructions by herdsmen and criticised President Muhammadu Buhari for not doing much to halt them.
The early morning attack on Benue communities took residents of the wards by surprise as according to an eyewitness, the herdsmen, who came with sophisticated weapons, shot anyone at sight.
“So far corpses of Mr. Verinumbe Jam, Mr. Pinega Dantsoho (Mbavuur) of Mbaamase were discovered at Toradi village while those of Evangelist Kwaghkighir Ukende, Mr. Iana Kpenger and Mr. Mnenge Ayaibo were picked at Channel One settlement all in Tswarev district,” the eye witness, Joseph Anawa, narrated.
The combined forces of the military and the Nigeria Police had been deployed to Benue villages following killings by herdsmen recently. The soldiers were on ground at strategic locations with armoured personnel carrier (APC) tanks while the police in coordination with the intelligence team, Special Forces team, took over the airspace with their surveillance helicopters. But the herdsmen were said to have defied the heavy presence of the security personnel.
Anawa explained that soldiers deployed from Anyiin were pursuing the herders with an APC tank, the former continued shooting.
On the number of exact deaths, the eye witness said since the attack was still ongoing, the exact number of casualties could not be ascertained.
The militia, he disclosed, had attacked Tse Toradi, Channel One, Akenawe, Meeme among other colleges.
‘This is the second time in one week that these terrorists will be unleashing mayhem on the people of Tswarev community. The other day was Tuesday 2/1/18 in the night and today again Friday 5/1/18 in the day time’
The Benue Police Command has confirmed the killings.
According to the Benue Police Public Relations Officer, Moses Iyamu, the police got the information and had since deployed a mobile police unit 4 reinforcement led by the area commander of Katsina Ala to halt the attack.
“A report was received today that suspected herdsmen entered Tse Akombo village in Mbaniage district and killed the following persons, Terhile Tyozua 45 yrs (2); Mlahaga Tse 65yrs (3) Chiangi Tyozua 40 yrs & (4)one other name, not yet known but was said to be a visitor, while the following were killed Tse- mba, Kwaghe Baki Age 70 yrs, Suushater Kwaghve 7yrs, Tortue Tsehemen 52 yrs, Tsav Zahemen 38yrs, Aondohemba Shaku 25 yrs, Francis 22 yrs,” the police stated.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Logo LGA, Mr. Richard Nyajo, has disclosed that the number of death in the renewed attack was on the high side as many people, including women and children, were missing. While several others have been displaced, corpses of those killed have been taken to Katsina Ala and Gboko.
‘We can only know the magnitude of the killings in a few days time,” he said.
Another source disclosed 49 were killed in the attack.
In Adamawa, an eyewitness revealed that the herdsmen, well- armed in their thousands stormed the villages at about 9 pm on Friday and continued their rampaging until 12 pm without any resistance from any quarters.
He said the development resulted to the killing of 10 persons while several persons sustained different degrees of injuries and houses , valuables, properties worth million of naira were destroyed.
The eyewitness further explained that the incident started last week, when the herdsmen encroached into the farms of some farmers in Tambo village with their cows and when the farmers accosted them, they started shooting at the farmers and as a result killed one and injured four persons.
He noted that the development attracted many farmers in the neighbouring villages, who teamed up to chase the herdsmen in fierce battle out of their farms and returned to bury their loss and took the injured persons for treatment to the Specialist Hospital in Yola, the state capital.
The source said every villager thought they had fled and would not return, adding that, “until yesterday while we were preparing to go to bed, when we heard gunshots and most of us fled for our lives to hide inside nearby bush.”
According to him, “Presently as l am speaking to you right now, about 3,000 armed herdsmen are standing at the outskirt of our villages preparing to return for another battle.”
Meanwhile, the Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Jimoh Moshood, has said the “Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris, had ordered commissioners of police in charge of Benue, Rivers and other contiguous states to the two states and their supervising assistant inspectors general of police and their personnel to be on red-alert with immediate effect to nip in the bud and prevent further attacks on innocent Nigerians by suspected herdsmen and other criminal elements in the mentioned States.
“To this end, the Deputy Inspector General of Police Operations has been dispatched by the IGP to Benue State to muster, coordinate and supervise the implementation of the new security strategies put in place by the Force to put an immediate end to the senseless killings and violence unleashed on innocent Nigerians by suspected herdsmen and other criminal elements in the two States.”
“Police Aerial Surveillance Helicopters, Five (5) Units of Police Mobile Force; Police Special Forces have been deployed along with additional conventional Police Personnel, the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), Police Explosive Ordinance Department (EOD) and Special Police Joint Intelligence and Investigation Teams to Benue and Rivers State to work with the Police Personnel on the ground. Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (FCIID) Personnel.
“This is to bring new impetus to the efforts of the Force to nip in the bud further attacks in the mentioned states.
“In Benue State, eight suspected herdsmen arrested at the scene of the killings are currently being prosecuted, six of them were remanded to Prison custody while the other two suspects arrested at a different scene of crime are being arraigned in court, ” Moshood explained.
He added that, “the Assistant Inspectors General of Police in Zone 4 Makurdi and Zone 6 Calabar have been mandated by the Inspector General of Police to convey stakeholders meetings in the affected states and also supervise the Police investigation and intelligence teams, and other Police Special Squads deployed by the IGP to the two States.
“While the Nigeria Police Force deeply commiserates with the Governments and People of Benue and Rivers States over the recent killings, the Force calls for calm and support for the police personnel deployed to sustain the normalcy that has been restored in the affected States.
“The Force implores the people to be vigilant and security conscious. They should promptly report suspicious acts or persons to the nearest Police detachment or station for prompt action to avert untoward incidents.
“The Force remains steadfast in its renewed commitment to ensure law and order and protection of lives and property of all Nigerians throughout the Country,” Moshood stated.
To this end, the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Operations, Mr. Habila Joshak, has undertaken on the spot assessment of the devastated communities in the state.
Joshak said, “We are all aware that lives were lost and many have been displaced, that is why the Inspector General of Police has asked me to come and asses and analyse the situation with other security agencies in collaboration with the contiguous states.
“He also directed that the Police should ensure the safety of lives and property and ensure visible policing across the affected communities.
“To ensure this, the Police and the military have agreed that there would be no reoccurrence of the crisis and killings and all those fingered in the killings are arrested.
“So the search for the masterminds of the killings has started, already we have increased the manpower of the command and other agencies and deployments to the flash points have started.
“The tactical unit has moved to Benue we have strengthened the communication unit and we have also agreed to increase our logistics support in the state with the deployment of helicopters and support staff for surveillance of the state.
“So we also have a mandate to ensure that the grazing law of the state is fully implemented and anyone found or caught violating or encouraging the breach of the law would be arrested and made to face justice.
“I can assure you that in no distant time, all those fingered in the killings are arrested and if it is established that anyone of those being mentioned as being responsible for the killings is truly involved we will have them arrested without delay.”
The police in Benue state have arrested six herdsmen who were involved in the invasion of the two local government areas in Benue state and arraigned them before a Makurdi Chief Magistrate Court presided over by Isaac Ajim.
The six accused persons, who were arraigned for criminal conspiracy, mischief by fire, anti open grazing, causing hurt with dangerous weapons and culpable homicide include Ibrahim Saleh, Jibrin Adamu, Magaji Yau, Ibrahim Abubakar, Useni Bala, Sabin Yau while Ibrahim Mallam was also arraigned for grazing on Governor Ortom’s farm along Naka Road in Makurdi.
According to the First Information Report (FIR), on December 31, 2017 at about 11:50pm, he Menga Mgande of Akor village in Guma local government area reported to the police at Gbajmba that on the same date at Aboh 3:pm, a group of Fulani herdsmen attacked heir village , shooting sporadically and in the process, killed 19 persons by severally injuring them with deep cuts all over their bodies.
It added that during police investigation, six accused including Ibrahim Saleh, Jibrin Adamu, Magaji Yau, Ibrahim Abubakar, Useni Bala, Sabin Yau were arrested and further investigation into the matter revealed that the suspects had destroyed houses, crops and burnt down many buildings.
The accused were also arraigned for openly rearing their cows within farmlands at Akor village in Guma Local Government Area thus contravening section 97, 329, 333 and 222 of the penal code law of Benue State and section 19(2)(3) of the open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law of Benue State 2017.
Given spate of killing, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Makurdi branch and the Nigeria Union of Journalists Benue State Council have chided President Mohammadu Buhari for his total lack of concern for the killing of Benue people by suspected Fulani herdsmen on New Year day.
At a news conference in Makurdi yesterday, the Makurdi Branch chairman of the Association, Emmanuel Agbakor, noted with grave concern that the right to life provided by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was the most primary duty of any government be it local, state and federal.
“We chide and absolutely deprecate the total lack of concern exuded by the president respecting the killing of Benue people. We condemn in strong terms, the recurring invasion of our dear state by suspected Fulani herdsmen and the concomitant nonchalant cum indifferent posture of the federal government concerning the problem”, he stated.