• 4 policemen among the dead •11 missing
Linus Oota, Lafia, Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The fragile security in Benue, Kano and Nasarawa was again shattered, yesterday, as gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen killed no fewer than 41 persons.
Among them were four mobile policemen who were reportedly mowed down in Ayinbe, Logo Local Government Area of Benue State and four suspected herders killed by troops during a gun duel.
Worse hit was Nasarawa were the rampaging gunmen murdered 32 Tiv villagers at different locations across the southern senatorial district in a well coordinated attacks yesterday.
The attackers were said to have carried out the dastardly act on the Tiv villages simultaneously across Awe, Keana, Obi and Doma LGA, leaving 19 others with severe gun and matchet injuries.
At the time of filing this report, over 10,000 Tiv villagers were said to have been trapped along the Agwatashi-Jangwa road in Obi LGAs shortly after the marauding herdsmen sacked over 200 villages including Uvirkaa, hometown of Commissioner for Water Resources, Gabriel Akaaka.
Our correspondent who went round some of the affected areas gathered that about 15,000 fleeing Tiv villagers were stranded in streets of Lafia, the state capital.
Already, over 100,000 are taking refuge in different Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), camps at Agwatashi, Aloshi, Awe, Adudu, Obi, Keana, Doma, Agyaragu, among other locations.
A visit to the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital (DASH), Lafia where eight victims are currently receiving treatment, also revealed that five bodies were deposited at the hospital mortuary out of which three were later released by the Police for burial.
Confirming the development in Lafia, President of Tiv Youth Organization (Nasarawa State chapter), Peter Ahemba said the entire Tiv villages had been sacked, noting that most of the affected villages were being occupied by the invaders.
“As I speak, nine corpses of our people killed this morning by the Fulani terrorists in Wurji village of Keana LGA have just been recovered and brought to Keana town by the Police.
“Last night, seven of our people were killed in a coordinated attacks with 11 others still missing at Kertyo and Apurugh villages in Obi LGA. Last Saturday, we recorded eight deaths from similar attacks in Kadarko area, four from Aloshi axis, one from Agberagba, all in Keana LGA. Another six persons were shot at Imon village and were rushed to Obi General Hospial. One of them later died. This is just few out of deaths we recorded within the last three days as a result of these senseless attacks,” he noted.
The Tiv youth leader, who alleged that the gun wielding herdsmen were conveyed in trucks to the state to carry out the inhuman act, said it was now clear that incessant attacks on Tiv people were no longer protests against any enacted law but a calculated attempt to exterminate the Tiv community.
He, therefore, appealed to international community to intervene to save the state and country from the current bloodbath.
The Police Public Relations Officer of the state police command, DSP Kennedy Idirisu, confirmed the attacks but said they were yet to ascertain the number of causalities.
Meanwhile, the trouble in Benue State, Daily Sun gathered, started on Sunday evening when two Mobile policemen deployed following the New Year day attack in the state who were returning from Anyinbe to Ayilamo were shot at by gunmen believed to be herdsmen.
One of the policemen was said to have died on the spot while the other who escaped managed to reach his other colleagues who quickly mobilised and embarked on search of their slain colleague.
A local, Chief Joseph Anawah, who spoke on telephone said unknown to the policemen that they had driven into an ambush laid for them by the attackers, they alighted from their vehicle and were searching for their colleague when their vehicle were set ablaze.
Although our source could not ascertain the number of policemen who were caught up in the ambush, he said all of them had to scamper for safety in the bush while sounds of gunshots resonated in the area all through the night till early hours of Monday.
The Benue State Police Command confirmed that four of its personnel were killed in the area, but Anawah said the casualty figure might be more.
The Police, in a statement by the Police Public Relations officer, ASP Moses Yamu stated the Command confirmed that its personnel came under attack of insurgents at Anyibe, Logo LGA of the State around 6pm on Sunday.
“Sadly, at the moment, four casualties have been suffered by the Police. Additional reinforcement (including the air asset of the Police) deployed by the Inspector General of Police is in pursuit of the murderous gang. They shall definitely be apprehended and made to face the full wrath of the law,” the police said.
Logo Local Government Area has been one of the areas that have come under severe attack by suspected Fulani herdsmen since January with several persons including policemen killed.
The situation had caused a major crisis, as people could still not return to their homes despite calls by Governor Samuel Ortom for them to return and defend themselves with stones.
In another development, troops belonging to the 707 Special Forces Brigade in Makurdi, Benue State killed four suspected herdsmen, yesterday.
Sources said the herdsmen were among the over 20 who attacked Yogbo village on Monday afternoon and burnt down several houses.
Troops were said to have responded by killing four of them in the process while the others fled even as the remains of the herders were said to have been taken to NASME Hospital, Makurdi.
Locals alleged that military identity cards were found on the deceased attackers who were in mufti after soldiers conducted search on them.
The incident which occurred at about 4pm sent panic amongst the people who are now moving out from the community in droves for fear of another attack.
Confirming the report, Assistant Director of Information, 707 Special Forces Brigade Major. Olabisi Olalekan Ayeni, however, debunked rumours that military identity cards were found on the deceased.
“Yes, I want to inform you that our troops stationed in Yogbo axis of Guma LGA killed four Fulani herdsmen but no military identity cards were found on them. I will still contact you to give you further information,” Ayeni said.