The inhabitant of plateau and delta became pensive as no fewer than 29 people were allegedly killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Nkei-Dongwro near Miango in Bassa Local Government Area in Plateau yesterday.
A dusk-to-dawn curfew had earlier been imposed on Bassa following a series of attacks in the area. But the gunmen have been defying the curfew as the attacks usually take place in the night.
The National President of Irigwe Development Association and former member of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Sunday Abdu, confirmed that 29 people mainly women and children were killed by the gunmen.
According to Abdu, some men seen as soldiers took the victims to one classroom with a view to saving their lives as they had all abandoned their ancestral homes, but it turned out to be a disguise as the gunmen massacred them as soon as they were left vulnerable by their perceived protectors.
Abdu, who said the village was attacked before, expected that the place should have still have been under the watch of the soldiers.
The state government said it was a regrettable case of unprovoked gun attack which has characterized the vicious circle of violence in the Irigwe chiefdom of Bassa council.
Government’s reaction came through the Director of Press and Publicity to the governor, Mr. Emmanuel Samuel Nanle, in a statement.
The Senator representing Plateau North Senatorial District, Dr. Jonah David Jang, in a statement he personally signed, asked the government to reconsider another strategy as the curfew was not working. But he put the death toll at 23.
He said he received with a deep sense of sadness and outrage, the news of the incessant violent killings going on in Bassa Local Government, allegedly perpetrated by herdsmen who have become the usual suspects in that kind of coordinated attacks in the state, and others in the Middle-Belt.
“The attack on Tegbe Village, the failed attack on Nzoruvho Village on Saturday, October 14th, 2017, and the most recent one on Nkiedonwhro Irigwe Chiefdom in the early hours of today October 16th, 2017 where about 23 persons were alleged to have been killed, are condemnable, no matter the justification”, he said.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the State Command, Mathias Terna Tyopev, said that though the incident happened, he could not give the actual casualty figure as he was still waiting for his divisional police officer to brief him on the incident.
Meanwhile, the major socio-cultural groups in Benue, including Mzough-u-Tiv, Idoma National Forum, and the Ominiyi Igede have alerted the residents to alleged plans by herdsmen to attack Benue, urging the Federal Government to tackle the menace the way she is handling security challenges in the North East and Niger Delta.
The groups raised the alarm yesterday when they paid a visit to Governor Samuel Ortom at the People’s House Makurdi.
The Leader of the delegation and President General of Mzough-u-Tiv, Chief Edward Ujege, said the groups had received reports of alleged armed Fulani militia buildup and convergence at the Nigerian-Cameroon border and at the Agatu border with Nasarawa State to the North-West of Benue.
“It is being reliably gathered that leaders of the herdsmen have held clandestine meetings in Nigeria and abroad to visit mayhem and genocide on the people of Benue State.
“The plot is said to be multi-directional and aimed at simultaneously invading and attacking Benue from every angle so that there would be no escape for our defenseless people,” Ujege maintained.
The groups said their visit was necessary to alert the Federal Government, which they however said had relaxed over the issue.
Ortom promised that the state government would make land available to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for the establishment of pilot ranches in the state.
Ortom stated that the provision of land was part of the state’s contribution to the collaborative efforts of the ministry.