……the casualty figure is far higher, many killed and injured – Local Govt Council Chairman.
33 bodies recovered after attacks on Ukum local government communities, casualty figure about 56 and could be higher – Commissioner of Industry, Trade and Investment, Prof. Tersoo Kpelai
……calls for investigations into alleged military involvement.
BY PETER DURU
MAKURDI……….The Police Command in Benue state has confirmed that four of its personnel deployed to Logo local government area to maintain the peace were killed at Anyibe village in an attack by suspected herdsmen that lasted between 6pm of Sunday and the early hours of Monday in Logo local government area of the state.
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 others 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, 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 Chairman said.
The State Police Command in a statement by its Public Relations Officer, Assistant Superintendent, ASP, Moses Yamu confirmed that the deceased lost their lives in an attack that started Sunday evening and lasted to the early hours of Monday.
The statement read in part, “Benue State Police Command regret to report that its personnel came under attack of insurgents at Anyibe, Logo LGA of the State between 6pm of Sunday April 15th., 2018 and early morning of 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 the Inspector General of Police is in pursuit of the murderous gang.
“They shall definitely be apprehended with their weapons of destruction and made to face the full wrath of the law.” The statement read.
Meanwhile the Benue state Commissioner of Industry, Trade and Investment, Prof. Tersoo Kpelai has disclosed that over 56 persons where 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 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 rubbles 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 the 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 N300million
Narrating their ordeal before the Commissioner, Mr. Sunday Kulegwa and Iortaver Idye (the most elderly person in Gbeji town) all pointed accusing fingers on 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, Councilor 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.
Responding Prof. Kpelai who condoled the bereaved families lamented that it was worrisome that innocent people were attacked and killed in their ancestral homes without provocation and promising to liaise with the appropriate authorities to investigate allegations of military involvement in the attacks.
He also assured that he would meet with the Executive Secretary, Benue State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, to facilitate an intervention by the agency.
On the possible reasons for the attack, the Commissioner said, “there had been an existing issue between herdsmen and local farmers in the area and the matter was at the verge of being resolved when the militant herdsmen stormed and sacked the communities and also killed innocent people.