….We’ve been violated, Council Chairman cries out
By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Now fewer than 17 persons including women and children have been reportedly killed by armed herdsmen in the home town of the Wife of the Benue state Governor, Mrs. Eunice Ortom, in separate attacks on two communities in Gwer West Local Government Area, LGA, of Benue state
Vanguard gathered that the communities affected by the fresh attacks were Agbanu, along Naka-Agagbe road, Saghev Council Ward, and Tse Amgbem close to Aondoana all in Gwer West LGA.
The attackers who reportedly burnt down Tse Amgbem in Tijime Council Ward and sacked the inhabitants of the community also left scores injured and many fleeing to the nearby Aondoana community.
According to a source, the attacks by the armed herders which was unprovoked started at about 5 pm on Sunday when they launched an attack on Agbanu, along Naka-Agagbe road, killing two persons.
Confirming the development, an indigene of the area and Special Adviser to the Benue state Governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Ken Achabo who said he had just visited the attacked communities explained that 15 corpses had been recovered from the deserted community in Tijime Council Ward where several houses were also razed by the invaders. He said two corpses were also recovered from Agbanu community along Naka-Agagbe road.
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According to the Adviser, “the armed herders attacked Tijime Council Ward, which is the Benue First Lady’s Council Ward where they killed 15 persons and burnt down the community.
“Right now we have an Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, situation in the area because the people have all moved to Aondoana which is a town community.
“I have just visited them to reassure them of Governor Samuel Ortom’s concern over the development. I am still on the road traveling back to the Local Government Headquarters in Naka.
“Aside that particular attack, there was also another attack along the Naka-Agagbe road, where two persons were killed on Sunday evening.
“I also visited the people to give them that sense of hope that they are not alone. We have just realized that it was a coordinated attack which the herdsmen militia launched from different angles.
“The attacks left many persons injured and some are receiving treatment in Naka and Aondoana.
“The development is so painful because it has forced the people out of their homes and communities when they are supposed to be preparing to move into the farms to cultivate their produce.
“Their worry now is how they would survive after these attacks because they are scared that they might not return home anytime soon to enable them to go to their farms. Though soldiers have moved into the communities to ensure the return of peace,” Mr Achabo said.
When contacted, the Gwer West Local Government Council Chairmen, Mrs. Grace Igbabon who confirm the attacks and 17 deaths said the search for more corpses or survivors was ongoing.
“We have been violated, it is indeed a sad day for us because these attacks are unprovoked. The herdsmen sneaked into these communities killed women, children, and even the elderly for no reason whatsoever.
“Though I cannot give you the exact number of the injured and the burnt houses many were injured and several houses were also razed by the armed herdsmen.
“The development has left us with a huge humanitarian crisis because the people have deserted their ancestral homes most of which have been razed and they are now seeking refuge in Aondoana,” Mrs. Igbabon said.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent, DSP, Catherine Anene confirmed the attacks and deaths promising to issue more details on the development later.