Attacks by Fulani Herdsmen Claim 21 Lives in Benue, Taraba

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 A total of 21 persons were feared dead yesterday in Benue and Taraba States following attacks by gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.

While the herdsmen attacked Obagaji, the headquarters of Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State killing 12 youths in the community, no fewer than nine people were killed at Nwokyo village in Wukari Local Government Area of Taraba State.

The incidents occurred even as the the federal government intensifies efforts to bring the incessant attacks by the Fulani herders on its host communities to a halt.

According to the Chairman Agatu Elders’ Committee, Mr. Sule Ngbede,  the young men had gone to fetch sand for building with a tipper in the river which is about three kilometres to the local government area headquarters when the gunmen attacked and killed them.

He stated that the corpses of the victims had been moved to Obagaji, the council headquarters, lamenting that soldiers who were drafted to Agatu had continued to stay in Obagaji while the boundary areas to the river had been left unmanned.

Ngbede appealed to security agencies posted to Agatu not to restrict their movement to the council’s headquarters but to always move around and ensure peace in the communities in Agatu.

When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Daniel Ezeala, a Superintendent of Police, confirmed the report, disclosing that the remains of the 12 victims had been moved to the mortuary.

In Nwokyo village, an indigene who escape unhurt, Manasseh Agyo, told THISDAY that the attackers stormed the village at about 7a.m. wearing military uniforms and began to shoot indiscriminately before setting several houses ablaze.

According to him: “The herdsmen were dressed in military uniforms and took the villagers unaware. They were carrying very sophisticated weapons and apart from those who died as a result of gunshots, several other people were burnt beyond recognition when their houses were set ablaze by their attackers.”

The Cottage hospital constructed with the assistance of the MDG was also set ablaze by the attackers when they discovered that women and children were taking refuge in the facility, including those who went there for medical attention.

Speaking to THISDAY on phone, the gubernatorial candidate of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the 2011 general election in Taraba State, Senator Joel Ikenya, described the orgy of violence going on in the area as worse than the civil war, saying such wanton killings have never been experienced by the people of the area.

Ikenya, who is an indigene of the village expressed disappointment over what he described as the lukewarm attitude of the government to security issues in the state, saying despite the quantum of lives that have so far been lost in the various clashes in the area, the state government was yet to visit the victims of the clashes.

Ikenya who appealled to the state government, to as a matter of urgency, send relief materials to the victims, especially those that have been displaced said: “As I am talking to you now, the MDG Hospital in the village and the worship centres have been burnt down and no house is standing there now as I am talking to you.”

To stem the spate of attacks on defenseless people, the former member of House of Representatives and Senate appealed to the federal government to urgently deploy soldiers to the communities so as to stop the attacks, stressing that government cannot continue to fold its arms when scores of people were being killed on daily basis.  

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