….we have record of two deaths – Security Adviser
…..I am yet to confirm – CP
BY PETER DURU
MAKURDI – No fewer than five persons were feared dead at the weekend in a fresh attack on Umenge village in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State by suspected herdsmen despite the ongoing Exercise Ayem Akpatuma (cat race) a Nigerian military spike operation to stem the incursions of the herders in the state.
Vanguard gathered that the victims who had successfully escaped alive early January when the community was attacked by herdsmen, met their death on Sunday when they went back to assess the safety of their community in order to return back to their homes.
“They had gone to Umenge from the camps to ascertain whether they could go back home since the military had come to ensure the safety and protection of lives and property.
“Unfortunately, none of them made it back alive to the camp except the a motorbike ride who managed to escape but others were not so lucky.
“The victims did not know that the Fulani herdsmen had laid ambush for them and as soon as they were approaching the village, they opened fired on them killing five on the spot.” The source said.
Confirming the development, Security Adviser to the Benue state Governor, Lt. Col. Paul Hemba (rtd.) said his office could confirm the death of two persons, a man and a woman who were killed in the village by the armed herdsmen.
Col. Hemba explained that the herdsmen after chasing away the locals occupied the community and also took a strategic position on a hill in the village from where they monitored movements in the community.
“The villagers were on a hike heading to Umenger which is close to Gbajimba that houses the headquarter of the Exercise Ayem A’ Akpatuma when the Fulani herdsmen who have occupied the area hid on a hill and attacked them killing two of the villagers while the motorcycle rider managed to escape.”
He stated that the policemen posted to the village were complaining that they did not have a functional vehicle adding that the military had promised to go on operation there on Tuesday.
Col. Hemba explained that corpses of the two deceased victims had been evacuated to Makurdi and deposited at the mortuary of the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, BSUTH, Makurdi
When contacted, the Benue state Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni said he was yet confirm the killings, adding “I am out of town and before leaving I couldn’t confirm the killings.