It was a week of deaths in Benue State between last Monday and Friday as suspected herdsmen killed, destroyed lives across numbers of villages in the North Central State of Nigeria.
This is not to miss the fact that the previous weeks have counts of several killings in the state but the daily killing spree by the suspected herdsmen in the preceding week have become more of concern locally and internationally.
On Monday, the suspected herdsmen killed 47 people in Ikobi community of Apa Council, including the traditional ruler.
Another 51 people were killed in Umogidi community of Otukpo Local Government Area on Wednesday.
39 people, who were taking refuge at a primary school at Mgban in Nyiev council ward in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State, were also killed by suspected herders on Friday. It was gathered that the attack occurred between 9 and 10 pm on Friday.
The traditional ruler of Nyiev community in Guma Local Government Area of Benue state, Chief Bernard Shawa, said 39 of his subjects, including his two children were killed by suspected herdsmen who attacked the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps in the community on Good Friday, according to Vanguard Newspaper report. The Monarch also disclosed that 38 other victims of the attack sustained severe injuries but were evacuated to the Benue State University Teaching Hospital in Makurdi.
According to reports, most of the victims were murdered in classrooms where they were taking refuge, having being displaced from their various homes for a long time. Reports also indicated that the killer herdsmen have displaced many inhabitants from their ancestral homes along the riverine areas of Guma, Makurdi, Gwer-West, Agatu, Apa, other local government areas in Benue State and have set up camps, using them as their launching pads.
Governor Samuel Ortom called on the military to carry out operation in Guma, Agatu, Apa, part of Makurdi, Gwer-West urgently in order to dislodge these terrorists who mostly cross from neighbouring Nasarawa state through Rukubi, Obendo, Achebpe, Olegokpa, Ijiwo, Odenyi, Loko to Benue State.
Benue State Governor-Elect, Hyacinth Iormem Alia has condemned the unprovoked attacks and brutal killings of innocent and unarmed Benue citizens by gunmen suspected to be herders.
In a statement signed by his media aide, Isaac Uzaan, the Governor said assailants attacked Mgban and Udei Communities of Nyiev, Guma Local Government area of Benue State in the early hours of Saturday, April 08, 2023, killing 35 persons including two Sons of the District head of Nyiev Zaki Shawa.
The statement reads in quote: “This is coming few hours after gunmen launched attack on Umogidi Community in Enetekpa, Adoka district of Otukpo local government killing 46 persons following a previous attack on the same Community that claimed three lives.
“Alia expressed discontent over the resurgence of the mindless and insensitive attacks on Benue communities and the gruesome murder in cold blood of innocent citizens including those under destitute conditions in makeshift camps created for Internally Displaced Persons. He regretted that such heinous and barbaric act has to continue during the Holy Week and in the still of the euphoria that greeted his victory and that of other candidates in the recent Gubernatorial and state Assembly elections in the state.
“While praying God to allow His peace to soak in the deepest part of the minds of those whose relatives were slain by the assailants, Alia expressed the hope that the weeping Benue people have long endured will soon come to pass, just as he called on the security agencies in the state to rise up to the challenge of securing lives and property of Benue citizens”.
Amnesty International said it’s horrified by the killing of over 80 people in Benue state, adding, incessant killings and the stunning failure of the authorities to end them and bring suspected perpetrators to justice have been and continues to be a threat to the right to life in Nigeria.
Amnesty International said in its report that over 46 people were killed on Wednesday 5 April and Thursday 6 April at Umogidi village of Entekpa-Adoka district in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue state.
In quote, Amnesty International said: “Also, on Friday, gunmen killed 34 people in an attack on Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp at LGEA Primary School Mgban, in Nyiev Council Ward of Guma Local Government Area of Benue State.
“Nigerian authorities must do more than merely condemning these horrifying killings. Suspected perpetrators must be promptly brought to justice.
“In addition to the security forces’ failure to heed warnings or respond in time to save lives, the fact that no perpetrators have been brought to justice leaves rural communities feeling completely exposed.
“Nigerian authorities must to do more — to end the alarming escalation of attacks, abductions for ransom and frequent killings which have left people feeling more unsafe across Nigeria”.
Marvin Ibem, Publicity Secretary, Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja Branch between 2020 and 2022, had said during the week that:
“In recent time, the herders took over the farmlands of my people and uprooted Yams, Cassava and other produce to feed their Cattles. This made the helpless villagers to abandon their ancestral farmlands for the safety of their lives. Events however, took a different dimension yesterday the 5th April, 2023 as the killers invaded my village and killed innocent villagers and farmers unprovoked.The last count of the victims were more than 47 bodies and more bodies are being recovered as at press time.
“This carnage is under reported and I will like to use this medium to call on all relevant authorities to act fast and save my people. We are a peaceful and law abiding people and will not contemplate taking laws into our hands. This attack is carefully orchestrated and constitutes an existential threat to my people. It is a strategy by the attackers to take over our ancestral home by strangers but we will never succumb.
In another development, not less than 85 children have been abducted by bandits in Tsafe Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
The children said to be between the ages of 12 and 17, were kidnapped on Friday morning, according to BBC Hausa.
It was gathered that the victims were in the bush fetching firewood at about 8:00 a.m. when the assailants rounded them up and marched them away into the forest.
Bandits have continued to wax stronger in the troubled Zamfara State despite several government interventions to tackle the terror activities.
Premium Times reported that the residents of Wanzamai village in Tsafe Local Government of Zamfara State released the names of the 85 persons that were abducted by the terrorists on Friday. The newspaper added that the community released the names following the claim by the police that only nine people were abducted.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party presidential candidate in the recently held presidential election in Nigeria, Peter Obi has condemned the killing spree in Benue State and kidnapping in Zamfara State, saying in quote: “I am deeply saddened by reports of the visceral violence and gruesome killing of the internally displaced people (IDPs) in Benue state and other parts of Benue, and the kidnapping of dozens of people in Wanzamai village in Zamfara.
“Such bloodletting is unconscionable, and stands condemned. Government and all stakeholders must take extraordinary measures to address this menace that is impacting negatively on our existence as a nation. My deepest condolences to the families and friends of all those affected. May their souls rest in peace. For those kidnapped, my earnest prayer is for their safety and quick rescue”.
Also the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP presidential candidate in the recent election in Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar said in quote: “The resurgence of violence and killings in parts of the country after a lull, stands condemned. The attack and killing of scores of innocent citizens in Umogidi, in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State, and the kidnap of dozens of young people in Wanzamai village in Zamfara have no place in our country. They are a reminder that a lot more still needs to be done to guarantee the security of the lives of Nigerians across the country. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased”.