Herdsmen attack, sack Gov Ortom’s farmhouse
BY PETER DURU
MAKURDI—Suspected herdsmen, yesterday, attacked Waku village and a part of Gbajimba town, all in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State, killing two persons, and destroying Governor Samuel Ortom’s farm house in fresh attacks in the area.
The latest attack came less than 24 hours after Yogbo, another community in the same local government area, also came under heavy attack by suspected herdsmen which left six persons dead and several property and farmlands destroyed.
However, the attack on Yogbo was repelled by the Police, who chased the invaders out of the community.
Confirming the latest attack at the State Police Command Headquarters, the Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni and Chairman of Guma Local Government Area, Mr. Anthony Shawon, said the herdsmen, who were backed by militant gangs, stormed the communities in the afternoon, yesterday.
“The herdsmen, backed by their militia, invaded Waku village this afternoon (yesterday) and killed two persons. They are also getting close to Gbajimba town, the local government headquarters and as I speak with you, they have attacked and sacked Governor Ortom’s farm house in Gbajimba.
“Our fear is that if we are not careful, they might overrun the local government headquarters the way they are going.”
Shawon, who commended the Police for saving Yogbo from being taken over by the marauding herdsmen, urged the command to continue to put up a brave fight and continue to sustain the resistance against the herdsmen’s incursion.
Police have deployed more men — Owoseni
Earlier, the Commissioner of Police reiterated the commitment of the command to ensure the restoration of peace in all the troubled communities in the state, with a view to having all the internally-displaced persons return to their ancestral homes.
“Already, the Inspector-General of Police had approved and deployed 15 mobile units of the Force from other states to Benue State; this is aside the Special Forces that have also been deployed to the state.
“We have also concluded arrangements to deploy more personnel to Guma to flush out the criminal elements operating there.
“We have also deployed to these areas two Armoured Personnel Carriers which were released to us by the DIG out of the five we requested for.
“Police visibility, intelligence capacity as well as deployment of technical assets have already been done in that area and in no distant time, these issues will be a thing of the past,” Owoseni assured.
‘Herdsmen enjoying support of highly placed Nigerians’
Meanwhile, piqued by statements credited to top government functionaries over the Benue killings, the state government has insisted that the rampaging killer herdsmen attacking various communities in the state are enjoying the backing and support of highly-placed Nigerians.
Addressing reporters yesterday in Makurdi, over the call by the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, for a repeal of Benue State’s anti-open grazing law which the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, had claimed was responsible for the killings, Benue State Commissioner of Information and Orientation, Lawrence Onoja, Jnr alleged that such remarks were clear indications that highly-placed Nigerians were fueling the killings.
Onoja, who recounted the over 46 times Benue communities came under the attack of suspected herdsmen in the last five years before the commencement of enforcement of the grazing law on November 1, 2017, noted that the claim that the killings were triggered by the grazing law was untrue and baseless.
He said: “The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, accused Governor Samuel Ortom of causing the lingering clashes between farmers and herdsmen in Benue and Nasarawa states. He is reported to have spoken at a closed-door meeting with members of the joint Senate Committee on Police Affairs and National Security and Intelligence on killings in Benue and environs when he appeared before the committee in response to the Senate’s summons.
“The IGP is said to have identified the implementation of the anti-open grazing law and the arming of Tiv militia as causes of the crisis.
“Such statements coming from some of the nation’s top security chiefs may have confirmed the fears expressed by many people that the herdsmen unleashing murderous attacks on Benue may have the backing of some highly-placed individuals within the security apparatus of the state.
“When those who are entrusted with the sensitive task of protecting lives and property of innocent Nigerians resort to placing unjustified blame on the good intentions of Benue State government to promote peace and security, then such people have unknowingly or knowingly become part of the problem we have on our hands today in the country.
On Miyetti Allah’s threat
“When the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore rose against the grazing law and threatened to invade the state, Governor Samuel Ortom, the Benue State House of Assembly, and leaders of all the socio-cultural organizations in the state petitioned the Presidency and all the relevant security agencies in the country. No action was taken by those saddled with the responsibility to protect lives and property at the national level.
“The state government also recalled that IGP Ibrahim Idris was ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari to relocate to Benue State in the wake of the New Year Day 2018 killings in the state to restore peace and order but available records show that the police chief was sighted in the state for just a day or so and then left immediately.
“The Police IGP’s initial casual description of the pre-planned Benue killings by Fulani herdsmen on the 1st and 2nd of January, 2018 as a mere ‘communal clash’ has clearly shown that the Police boss does not accord any urgency and seriousness to arresting the perpetrators of the mass murder of our people and his body language may have emboldened these herdsmen militia to further lay false claim of ownership to the Benue Valley through a so-called right of conquest.
“We reiterate that until the masterminds and sponsors of the killings in Benue State are arrested, we will not trust or have confidence in the IGP of Police.
Tackle herdsmen menace – PDP tells Buhari
Also yesterday, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, while condemning in strong terms the unabated killings across the country, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to come out clean on the herdsmen killings to address the nation on how to end the carnage.
The PDP in a communique issued at the end of its NWC meeting with governors of the party in Asaba, Delta State, said the President must wake up to his responsibility of protecting lives and property of Nigerians.
The communique, signed by the National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus and Chairman of PDP Governors Forum, Mr Ayodele Fayose, read: “The President must take responsibility on the protection of lives and property of Nigerians which is the most important of his responsibilities.
“We believe that the Federal Government’s decision to set up a committee to address the issues of herdsmen killings is a pretentious approach to a matter that requires firm action and leadership by the President in line with his oath of office to protect all Nigerians, irrespective of creed, tribe and political affiliation.”