Bloodbath, as herdsmen kill 66 in Benue, Taraba

Posted by Soni Daniel, Peter Duru & John Mkom | 13 April 2018 | 2,367 times

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•Ibrahim Idris

No fewer than 66 persons were on Wednesday night killed in Benue and Taraba states by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen, with the attacks continuing yesterday.

Scores of others were also killed in Zamfara communities, following a midnight attack by suspected herdsmen.

While 41, according to residents, were reportedly killed in separate attacks on communities in Logo and Ukum local government areas of Benue State, 25 were slaughtered at Jandeikyula village in Wukari Local Government Area of Taraba State.

The killings in Taraba prompted the governor, Darius Ishaku, to align with former Chief of Army Staff and Defence Minister, Lt. General T.Y. Danjuma, asking the people to rise and defend themselves.

The residents in the Benue communities also said the death toll may rise sharply in the coming hours, as more bodies were still being removed from nearby bushes. Among the injured victims of the latest attack was 70-year-old Mama Uhaen Ndiisaa, mother of a former chairman of Logo Local Government Area, Mr. Terhemen Ndiisaa, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The latest attacks came a day after 15 people were killed by gunmen said to be wearing military uniform.

“The first attack happened in Tse Hwer in Ukemberyge/Tsweray Council Ward in Logo Local Government around 6:30 p.m. to this morning,” said a senior state government official who did not want to be named.

He said he had been warned by federal authorities for talking to the media in the past. “Some people are saying their families are missing, but we haven’t been able to confirm how many exactly,” he said. “When they arrived at about 6:00 p.m. in Jande-Ikyura in Ukum Local Government Area, the gunmen appeared determined to wipe out the entire community, said another resident of the area who said he had been to the village yesterday morning to witness the aftermath. Jande-Ikyura is a border community between Ukum LGA in Benue and Wukari Local Government Area in Taraba State.

“It was like they wanted to be sure that all the villagers were killed before they would run back to their hideouts. They killed 22 people who were living there,” said 48-year-old Isaac Ihiev. Mr Ihiev said three of the attackers who were killed when some youth responded to the assault were found in military uniform.

“Three of them were killed and they dressed like soldiers when their bodies were moved out from the bush,” Mr Ihiev said, adding that he lives in a nearby village that falls under Wukari LGA in Taraba State. He said efforts were underway to find the missing people.

In his account, Terhemen Ndiisaa said on phone:  “The herdsmen attacked my community, Igboughur Mbavuur, in Logo Local Government, last night around 10pm, killing two persons.

“This time, they did not burn down houses but resorted to breaking into people’s houses but luckily many were able to flee and escape after they heard the sporadic gunshots in the community.

“Unfortunately, my mother was shot while she was fleeing but she is still alive and many others also sustained injuries.

“As we speak, our people are packing out of our villages and communities and fleeing to any safe place but the truth is that nowhere is safe for now because we cannot tell the next target.” Also speaking, a former aide of the former governor of the state, whose community was affected in the latest attack, said the group which attacked Igbougher Mbavuur also struck at Tse-Wadr, killing three persons.

“We suspect that the same gang which attacked Igbougher Mbavuur were responsible for the early morning attack on Tse-Wadr in the same Logo local government where they sacked the community and killed three persons, leaving scores with injuries around 5am today (yesterday).

“As we speak, there is palpable fear and tension in several communities of Logo local government, especially those bordering River Benue and Nasarawa State, from where the invaders come to attack our communities. “Usually, they cross River Benue from Nasarawa State to attack, after which they beat a retreat in a guerrilla fashion,” he said.

Reacting, the Chief Press Secretary to the Acting Governor of the state, Mr. Ogaba Edeh, said the continued killings in the state by herdsmen was saddening.

Edeh said: “It is sad that the killings have continued, despite the presence of security personnel in some of these areas.

“The development stands condemned and it’s a pointer to the fact that the federal government has to do more to stop these ceaseless killings in the state by herdsmen.”

When contacted the State Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, said he was yet to get the report. “I do not have a record of that, I have mobile police men in those areas and if anything happens and they have not reported it, it means nothing has happened,” he said.

Also yesterday, the village of Agboughul in Makurdi town was attacked, leading to the death of two persons while several persons were injured. A resident in the area told Vanguard that the herdsmen stormed the community that is located close to River Benue yesterday afternoon.

“They came this afternoon (yesterday) and started shooting and killed a man who went to the area to dig a well on a plot of land and another.

“The remains of the dead were moved on a motorbike to the ‘D’ Division Police station in Makurdi by angry youths who almost went on rampage.

“Several persons are at the moment moving out of the community, though the Police have moved into the area to ensure that the herdsmen were pushed out of the besieged community,” he said.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Assistant Superintendent Moses, ASP, Moses Yamu, who confirmed the development, said the State Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, also led his personnel to the community.

Killer herdsmen defy IGP’s presence

In Taraba State, the herdsmen killed 25 persons at Jandeikyula village in Wukari Local Government Area of the state, despite the presence of the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who had been on a three-day visit to the state.

Special Adviser to Governor Darius Ishaku on Students’ Affairs, Engr. Samson Tor-Musa, who hails from the area, confirmed the killing in a telephone interview. He lamented that despite efforts by Governor Darius Ishaku to ensure peaceful coexistence in the state, some people were bent on frustrating his efforts and called for the reinforcement of security in the area.

Also, a former Special Adviser to late Governor Danbaba Suntai, Orbee Uchiv, who hails from Jandeikyula, told journalists that the armed herdsmen invaded the village at about 6pm, opening fire on innocent villagers. Uchiv said the number of deaths would have been more but for the quick intervention of soldiers on patrol around the area who were coming from Gbeji, a neighbouring town in Benue State where four people were killed on Tuesday.

An eyewitness, who narrowly escaped death in the attack, Mr. Victor Iortim, said that the attackers launched attack on the village, killing anybody in sight and burning houses.

“They were numbered close to 200. I went to a neighbouring village and I was on my way back to Jandeikyula when I sighted them.

“I quickly hid in the bush. They were well armed with sophisticated weapons. There was no way I could call home because there was no network on my phone where I hid,” he said.

Wukari Council Chairman, Daniel Adi, confirmed the attack, saying that many people were killed.

“Many people were killed in the attack, but I don’t have the casualty figure now. I am on my way to the village now and will give details of the casualty figure and the wounded when I am back from the village,” he said.

Police Public Relations Officer, ASP. David Missal, also confirmed the attack, but said details were still sketchy.

The attack came barley 48 hours after IGP Ibrahim Idris commissioned a mobile police base in Takum and confirmed reinforcement of three additional units of police personnel to Taraba State to curb attacks in the state. The IGP, who is on a three-day official visit to Taraba, is still in the state, even as the Army Operation, Ayem Akpatuma, had been extended in Taraba.

•Excerpted from a Vanguard report.


Source: News Express

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