By Kingsley Omonobi, Joseph Erunke & Peter Duru
MAKURDI—Despite the commencement of Exercise Ayem A’ Kpatuma by the military to check the incursion of herdsmen into parts of Benue State, suspected herdsmen have reportedly sacked Mbatoho Chile, an island close to Benue State Government House, at Mbalagh council ward of Makurdi local government.
The invaders also rendered over 5,000 Tiv inhabitants of the community homeless after destroying several houses, farmlands and food barns.
Vanguard gathered from some of the displaced persons, who fled into Makurdi main town from the island to seek the state government’s intervention, that the well-armed herdsmen attacked the island four days ago.
Community leader of the island, Chief Peter Tachie, said: “The armed herdsmen who are usually dressed in black started their action four days ago in our community.
“They came in their numbers with their cattle into the island from Guma Local Government Area on foot some weeks ago because the water level of River Benue has dropped significantly, so they could access the island on foot.
“Four days ago, they started destroying our houses, farmlands and food barns and took over the LGEA Primary School in the island, converting same for personal use.
“They have destroyed all that we spent years to acquire, so we have all moved into Makurdi main town with our families to seek government’s attention before the situation will get out of hand.”
400 pupils chased away from school
Head Teacher of the only primary school on the Island, LGEA Primary School, Daudu, Mr. Otave Ephram, told Vanguard that close to 400 pupils of the school had been chased out of school by the invaders.
“All my pupils, who are close to 400, have been chased out of school and displaced due to the activities of the herdsmen who have taken over the entire island and chased out the locals.”
Contacted, Benue State Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, said the command had received reports of the development.
State govt yet to get details
Speaking on the issue, Deputy Governor of the state, Mr. Benson Abounu, said the government was yet to get detail of the development, explaining that Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Lt. Col. Paul Hemba (retd), had been directed to liaise with the Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, to ascertain the veracity of the development.