By Peter Duru & David Odama
…4 in Benue, 32 in Nasarawa
…11 policemen declared missing in Benue
..Casualty figure far higher, many killed, injured —LG Chair
MAKURDI—Gunmen suspected to be herdsmen have again killed at least 36 persons in Benue and Nasarawa states.
The four persons killed in Logo Local Government Area of Benue State were police officers, while 11 others were declared missing after an ambush was laid for the policemen by the herdsmen on Sunday evening and yesterday morning.
However, the Logo Local Government Council Chairman, Mr. Richard Nyajo, in a telephone interview maintained that the casualty figure was far higher, adding that many sustained injuries in the attack.
Nyajo said: “The well armed herdsmen entangled the Police personnel on duty in the area at about 6pm and killed several of them but some managed to flee.
“Though I cannot confirm the total casualty figure but many were reported dead and several others sustained injuries. That is what those who managed to escape told me when I met them.”
The state Police Command in a statement by its Public Relations Officer, Assistant Superintendent, ASP, Moses Yamu, confirmed that the policemen lost their lives in an attack that started Sunday evening and lasted till the early hours of Monday (yesterday).
The statement read in part: “Benue State Police Command regrets to report that its personnel came under attack of insurgents at Anyibe, Logo LGA of the state between 6pm on Sunday April 15, 2018 and early morning today (Monday).
“Sadly, at the moment, four casualties have been suffered by the Police. Additional reinforcement (including the Air Asset of the Police) deployed by Inspector General of Police is in pursuit of the murderous gang.”
56 killed in Gbeji town of Tsaav—CP
Meanwhile, the Benue State Commissioner for Industry, Trade and Investment, Prof. Tersoo Kpelai, has disclosed that over 56 persons were killed by suspected herdsmen in last Thursday’s attack on Gbeji town of Tsaav ward, Tse-Akaanya and Tse-Hiityo of Lumbuv council ward of Ukum Local Government Area of the state.
Kpelai, who hails from the area, made the disclosure after undertaking an on-the-spot assessment of the sacked communities.
He said the figure could be far higher at the end of search for the remains of victims in the affected villages.
He said: “So far, we have recovered 33 bodies from some of the bushes and rumbles of burnt houses, huts and farmland and the search is still ongoing. So, there is every likelihood that the figure would be much higher because three more bodies have just been recovered and many are still missing.
“From what we have gathered so far from survivors, the herdsmen, who attacked the border communities, came from Chenkei in Taraba State.
“Most of the survivors also accused Nigerian Army of colluding and leading the militant herdsmen to attack their villages. The property and valuables lost in the attack including houses, huts, farmland, economic trees, food barns and seedlings could be well over N300 million.’’
Narrating their ordeal before the Commissioner, Mr. Sunday Kulegwa and Iortaver Idye (the most elderly person in Gbeji town) all pointed accusing fingers at the army, noting that military personnel using official vehicles were not only spotted on the scene of the attacks with the invaders but also participated in the shooting and killing of innocent people.
Similarly, at Tse Akaanya and Tse Hiityo all in Lumbuv council ward, Mr. Timothy Iorfa, Councillor representing Lumbuv ward, Austin Damsa and Terkaa Agera who witnessed the attack maintained that “men in army uniforms in their personnel carriers and other utility vehicles were seeing shooting and killing people while herdsmen followed the troops burning houses and carting away valuables.
…32 in Nasarawa
In the Nasarawa incident, no fewer than 32 persons were killed when herdsmen launched a fresh attack on over 32 Tiv communities in the southern senatorial district of Nasarawa State.
The suspected killers were said to have carried out the attacks simultaneously in Awe, Keana, Obi and Doma Local Government Areas of the state, leaving 19 others with severe gun and machete injuries.
At press time, over 10,000 Tiv villagers are currently trapped in Obi Local Government Area following the cordinated attacks by the suspected herdsmen.
A visit to some of the sffected communities by Vanguard revealed that about 15,000 fleeing Tiv villagers are currently stranded and are taking refuge in Lafia, the state capital aside the over 100,000 in different IDP camps at Agwatashi, Aloshi, Awe, Adudu, Obi, Keana, Doma, Agyaragu, among other locations.
When Vanguard visited Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital in Lafia, where eight of the victims are currently receiving treatment as a result of injuries sustained from the attacks, it was also gathered that five dead bodies were initially deposited at the hospital mortuary of which three were already released by the Police for burial.
Confirming the development to journalists in Lafia, President, Tiv Youth Organization Nasarawa state chapter, Comrade Peter Ahemba said the entire Tiv communities in the southern part of the state had been sacked, noting that most of the affected villages were being occupied by the invaders.
“As I speak to you, seven corpses of our people killed this morning by the Fulani herdsmen in Wurji village of Keana LGA have just been recovered and brought to Keana town by the Police.
‘’Also last night, five of our people were killed in the coordinated attacks, with seven others still missing at Kertyo and Apurugh villages in Obi Local Government
“Three days ago, we recorded eight deaths from similar attacks in Kadarko area, four from Aloshi area,one from Agberagba, all in Keana LGA.
‘’Another six persons shot at Imon village, were rushed to Obi General Hospial as a result of which one of them later died. This is just a few out of deaths we recorded within the last three days as a result of these senseless killings,’’ Ahemba explained.
The Tiv youth leader, who alleged that the herdsmen were conveyed in trucks and brought into the state to carry out the attack, told journalists that it was now clear that incessant attacks on the Tiv people were no longer protest against any enacted law but a calculated attempt to exterminate the Tiv community of the state.
He appealed to Nasarawa State government to urgently stop the carnage, and asked the international community to intervene in order to save the state and country from the current bloodbath.
Contacted on the incident in a telephone interview, the Police Public Relation Officer, DSP Kennedy Idirisu, said the command was only aware of yesterday’s attack.
He said: “There was an attack early Monday morning, but the command is yet to be given details as regards to the number of people that lost their lives in the early hours attacks by unknown gunmen.”