By Peter Duru, Makurdi
This is certainly not the best of times for the besieged native Tiv farmers inhabiting communities within and around Guma, Gwer West and Makurdi local government areas of Benue state.
At the last count, in the last six months, no fewer than 55 Tiv farmers, including women and children have been murdered in cold blood by rampaging Fulani herdsmen who have engaged their hosts in a ferocious battle of dominance.
From Guma to Makurdi, and down to Gwer West local government areas, it is an unending tale of bloodbath and wanton destruction of lives, farmland and property of a magnitude never witnessed in the history of the state.
Fulani herdsmen have literarily sacked villages and communities in the affected local government areas and they are gradually marching towards Makurdi main town without restraint.
There is no gainsaying that parts of Benue state is under siege: women, children and the elderly are not spared by the invading herdsmen.
Just few days after nine persons were slaughtered in an ambush by Fulani herdsmen, another ten Tiv farmers were some days ago slaughtered in fresh attacks in Guma local government area by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
The attack also left many missing and unaccounted for, while farmland, houses and huts were not speared by the invaders who have turned the besieged communities into spectacles of war.
Saturday Vanguard gathered from an eyewitness that the assailants struck at Mbasenge community in Mbagwen in the early hours of Tuesday killing and burning the houses and farmland of their victims.
A survivor of the attack, Mbaungwa Igboko who narrated his ordeal amidst tears said his parents; Igboko Ananya and Kahemban Ananya, as well as his brother’s wife, Mbalumunga Ananya, were killed in the attack.
He said two other persons; Kwaghsaa Iorbee and Orsaa Akosu were also killed in his presence before he managed to excape. “As I talk to you, there are many others we are yet to ascertain their whereabouts.
“The situation is that bad because as it is, we are at the mercy of the invaders who we suspected are being propped on by mercenaries”.
While calling for the intervention of the state and federal government in the matter, he lamented that the attacks were coming at the time of full scale farming activities.
Saturday Vanguard further gathered that as at Thursday evening, women and children were sighted fleeing into Makurdi town from Udei and Otese communities in Guma local government area.
In fact, there is obvious fear and tension in Makurdi town given the intensity of the crisis in surrounding and neigbouring communities which are just a stone throw from the heart of the town.
This recent attack came after the member representing Guma/Makurdi Federal Constituency, Hon. Emmanuel Jime, in company of the local government council chairmen of Makurdi and Gwer West local government areas had embarked on an assessment tour of some of the ravaged areas in their councils.
Speaking to newsmen after the tour, Hon. Jime lamented the extent of destruction and carnage visited on his people by the invaders just as he expressed displeasure at the recurrent insecurity situation in his constituency.
Jime disclosed that the Federal Government had already approved the deployment of soldiers to the crisis zone in order to stem the crisis.
He however added that the National Assembly would have to take urgent steps to check the recurrent bloodbath being unleashed on parts of Tiv land by Fulani invaders.
He also promised to initiate a motion in the House to compel a speedy intervention of the House of Representative, based on the findings of an adhoc committee set up by the House months ago to visit some of the ravaged communities.
“What we saw calls for urgent attention because the situation on ground is heart rendering; people have been displaced without any source of livelihood; it is that bad,” he added.
On his part, the Chairman of Gume local government, whose domain has been on the receiving end, Hon. Frank Usa Adi, lamented that his constituents have been moving in droves out of their habitat in search of safe haven in nearby Makurdi town.
“My people cannot embark on farming activities anymore. They are literally being chased out of their communities by the herdsmen who have engaged the services of mercenaries in their quest to annihilate my people.
“Those that still are living in their communities are in fact living in fear of the unknown because no one knows when and which community would be visited next.”
In his reaction, the paramount ruler of Nagi kingdom, HRH Chief Daniel Abomste, whose domain has also been ravaged by the crisis, urged the Federal Government to create grazing routes for herdsmen across the country in order to check the recurrent bloodbath.
“My plea to government is that a grazing route should be created for herdsmen in order to stem these recurrent crisis and killings. Until that is done, my people would continue to live at the mercy of these mercinaries,” he said.
When contacted, the Benue State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Daniel Ezeala said the Command had drafted men to the trouble spots assuring that the command was working in tandem with other security agencies to arrest the situation.