Benue chairmen claim herdsmen have killed 1,773 in three years

 

The Council Chairmen in the 14 Local Government Areas of Benue State has backed the intention of the Benue Government to stipulate stiffer measures against violators of the Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law (Anti-Open grazing law).

In a press conference held in Makurdi on Monday, they noted that the move is intended to act as a deterrent to violators of the law.

They also lamented that 1773 persons have died from herdsmen attacks since 2018.

The chairmen further stated that the attacks by the herders have displaced farmers in over 27 wards and countless communities in the state

According to the council chairmen, 14 LGAs out of the 23 Local Government Areas of the state are currently under heavy attacks by herdsmen.

The spokesperson for the group and chairman of Ukum LGA, Steve Ayua observed that even though the law is on ground, the herdsmen have continued to violate the law.

The conference which had in attendance leaders of the three socio-cultural organisations in the state among them the Mzough U Tiv (MUT), Ochetoha K’ Idoma and Om’nyi Igede also called on security agencies to be deployed in areas where herbers perpetrate their crimes.

The group further noted that law has consistently been violated by herdsmen who cross the borders of Nasarawa and Taraba states into Benue state, where they have continued to kill, maim and rape their victims.

According to him, “Since 2018, armed herdsmen have killed 1,773 people (those traced and accounted for) in Benue state. The killers no longer come with cows. They carry AK47.

“We, therefore, request the deployment of special forces to entry points into Benue state that is usually used by these merchants of death who are bent on eliminating our people and taking over their ancestral lands with their genocidal attacks.

“Some of these points are Awe, Keana and Doma LGAs of Nasarawa state, which serves as their safe haven. The killers also come in through Mbakyol, Tyulugh from Jonwata on the Cameroon border, Moon and Yaav, Kashinbila and Tukun in Taraba state through Utenger Shitile in Katsina-Ala, Benue State. Others are Tungwa and Anyibe in Logo, Nyinjirr to Tse-Ahor along River Benue in Makurdi, among others.

“We believe that deployment of troops to the affected areas will guarantee safety and enable our people to return to their ancestral homes.”

Furthermore, he explained that “That the Benue state open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law will soon be reviewed and tougher penalties provided for, as a deterrent to offenders.

“The latest of the callous and inhuman atrocities came on the morning of 13th November 2021 when some gunmen invaded a community in Mbayatyo, Mbater Council ward of Logo LGA, killing scores of mourners at a wake for one of their departed relatives.

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“What could be worse than the killing of bereaved people mourning the death of a loved one? While we condemn the act in strong terms, we call on the security formations who have been making efforts to curtail the heightened insecurity in the Sankera axis and other parts of Benue state to arrest perpetrators of the heinous crime and bring them to justice.

“Some of the areas herdsmen have attacked, killed and displaced many people in Benue state include Guma, Makurdi, Logo, Agatu, Katsina-Ala, Kwande, Gwer-West, Ado.

“We also have reliable information that Fulani herdsmen always resisted arrest whenever they are caught violating the law on open grazing. They shoot at those attempting to arrest them.

“The herdsmen have adopted guerrilla tactics of coming at night to slaughter our people and escape without being challenged. Attempts to repel them in response to distress calls from communities under attack result in the death of some law enforcement agents.

“Benue state has a law against open grazing of animals. Anyone who violates the law, therefore, has no right to question why his cattle were impounded” he stated.

Ayua notes that “Another disturbing trend recently introduced by the armed herdsmen is to go to the crossing points in River Benue and other waterways within the state and force the boatmen to ferry them to their targeted areas. Any resistance from the boatmen is met with instant death.

“We are aware that the security agencies are doing their best to ensure that parts of Benue state are secured; it is however disturbing that the invaders are growing in confidence and have become daring to the extent that they have a field day anytime they embark on a mission to slaughter our people.

“The negative impact of open grazing which often results in attacks on communities in different parts of Benue state has adversely affected the local economy as farmers are prevented from accessing their farms and local markets are also deserted for fear of imminent invasion by the killers.

“We, therefore, request the deployment of special forces to entry points into Benue state that is usually used by these merchants of death who are bent on eliminating our people and taking over their ancestral lands with their genocidal attacks.

“Some of these points are Awe, Keana and Doma LGAs of Nasarawa state which serves as their safe haven. The killers also come in through Mbakyol, Tyulugh from Jonwata on the Cameroon border, Moon and Yaav, Kashinbila and Tukun in Taraba state through Utenger Shitile in Katsina-Ala, Benue State. Others are Tungwa and Anyibe in Logo, Nyinjirr to Tse-Ahor along River Benue in Makurdi, among others.

“We believe that deployment of troops to the affected areas will guarantee safety and enable our people to return to their ancestral homes” he stated.

 

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