BY PETER DURU &NDAHI MARAMA
BENUE— No fewer than 30 persons were feared dead in a fresh clash between Fulani herdsmen and native Tiv farmers in Yogbo, Guma Local Government Area of Benue State. This came as the Joint Task Force, JTF, confirmed, yesterday, that 24 sect members were killed in Monday’s spate of explosions and shootings in Maiduguri.
Majority of those killed in the bloodbath that erupted Sunday morning in Yogbo were women and children who could not escape before the herdsmen invaded the embattled community.
The renewed crisis also left several farmlands and yields in ruins while houses and huts worth several millions of Naira were also destroyed by the rampaging Fulani herdsmen.
Vanguard gathered from fleeing residents of the community who had taken refuge in Makurdi town that the arms wielding herdsmen attacked Yogbo, a community that is less than 15 minutes drive from Makurdi town, at about 7am on Sunday when most residents had gone to church.
According to one John Usher who said he escaped with his wife and three children from the sudden attack, “we never envisaged any attack on that day, because we have been living in peace with one another for sometime now.
“We were surprised when the Fulanis suddenly attacked us, slaughtering over 30 women and children who were at home when many families had gone to church; we heard screams of women and children being murdered by the Fulanis who quickly disappeared after carrying out the dastardly attack”.
He added: “Given the timing of this latest attack on Tiv farmers, it has become worrisome that anytime a year is coming to an end, these ugly incidents always occur, leading to the spilling of blood and the wanton destruction of property and farm yields of Tiv farmers by the invading Fulani herdsmen. It is just unfortunate”.
Meanwhile, at press time, hundreds of indigenous Tiv farmers were seen fleeing to Makurdi town, while some were heading to Gbajimba from the troubled community while security operatives were also seen patrolling parts of the town.
When contacted, the Benue state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Daniel Ezeala confirmed that men of the command have been deployed to the troubled spot to forestall further bloodbath in the area.
Vanguard recalls that attacks on Tiv communities by the herdsmen had, in the last few years, led to deaths of hundreds of persons especially in the border communities between Benue and Nasarawa states.
Efforts by both Benue and Nasarawa state governments and the Sultan of Sokoto to find lasting solution to the crisis have yielded little or no results in the last few months.
Recently, the governors of Benue and Nasarawa states also signed a peace accord at Yelwata, a border town between the two states to end the incessant bloodbath.
24 suspected terrorists, 2 others killed in Maiduguri multiple blasts
Meanwhile, 24 suspected terrorists have been confirmed killed in last Monday’s clash with members of the JTF in Gwange, Zannari and Gomari Costain areas of Maiduguri, while two others believed to be members of the JTF were killed by the terrorists.
But the Task Force in Borno State said, yesterday, that no member of JTF or civilian was killed during the encounter, insisting that about 24 suspected Boko Haram fighters were killed in different parts of Maiduguri metropolis.
A statement signed by the JTF spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa and made available to newsmen in Maiduguri, yesterday, said the Boko Haram sect members attacked JTF locations in Zannari ward and Lagos Street along Gwange general area on Monday night where rocket propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices were used by the insurgents.
According to the statement: “The terrorists used civilian homes as launching areas for the attacks at different times of the night of Monday, October 15, 2012. All the attacks were repelled; 24 Boko Haram terrorists were killed”.
The JTF spokesman claimed that no civilian casualty was recorded but added that a soldier was wounded during the attack.
He said: “One RPG purpose machine gun, 7 AK 47 riffles, 1 FNC riffle, 24 assorted empty magazines, 950 assorted ammunition, two pistols, large quantity of assorted Improvised Explosives Device (IED) materials and several bows, arrows and cutlasses were recovered from the attackers.
The atmosphere in Maiduguri has been normalized since the early hours of Tuesday(yesterday) as people are going about their normal businesses.” Musa warned residents to desist from allowing their homes to be used as launching pads for attacks on troops and civilians, saying such action would be dealt with appropriately.