By Peter Duru – Makurdi
Eight persons including two aid workers and a relation of Governor Samuel Ortom were, Sunday evening, reportedly killed during a raid on Nzorov and Uvir Council Wards of Guma Local Government Area of Benue state by suspect armed herdsmen.
Vanguard gathered that the deceased aid workers attached to the 360 Health Systems Diagnostics and Correction, 360HSDC, a Non-Governmental Organization, NGO, working on HIV/AID testing and counseling in the state were earlier abducted by the armed herders before they were killed.
The workers according to the source were said to be on their routine assignment when they were captured by their abductors at Tomanyiin village.
The source disclosed that a call which was put to the phone of one of the workers, after the news of their capture circulated in the community was picked by one of the armed herders who confirmed their kidnap and killing insisting that such will continue in the state until Governor Samuel Ortom responded to their demand to repeal the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches law of the state enacted in 2017.
When contacted the Chairman of Guma LGA, Mr. Caleb Aba who confirmed the killings said “four of the victims were killed in Mbabai village on Sunday evening including the two aid workers. Three others were killed in Nzorov (Governor Ortom’s hometown) and one other in Uvir council ward all in Guma LGA.
The Chairman who lamented the latest killings said the attack was unprovoked adding, “before now we had no quarrels with the herders who came in from neigbouring Nasarawa State to kill our people.”
Reacting, Governor Samuel Ortom who also confirmed the attack said his relation, an undergraduate of Benue State University was among the eight victims.
He said, “he was a 200 level undergraduate of the Benue State University. He was killed by the Fulani militia including two humanitarian aid workers and the others.
“It is unfortunate, and they even had the guts to send words to the person who called the phone of one of the workers that they should tell me that I should repeal the open grazing prohibition law otherwise they will continue with the killings.
“That is the kind of impunity we are talking about. That is the injustice and unfairness we are talking about in this country and the evil being perpetrated by this people.
“We will continue to cry out to the outside world to see the genocide that is going on here in Benue state and other parts of Nigeria.
“I heard somebody made an unfortunate statement that said the Fulani bandits are like spirits so they cannot be seen. That is why they can arrest Nnamdi Kanu and displace Sunday Igboho but herdsmen cannot be arrested.
“These are people who are romancing government officials, yet killing people, taking our children hostage, raping our children in schools and our women yet nothing is being done because they are like spirits.
“We see this militia who comes out on videos claiming that they were hired by government and yet somebody is saying that they cannot be seen. We know that Gumi can go to the forests to see them, come back and negotiate ransom; and somebody is saying that they are like spirits.
“How can you stop IPOB in the East and stop Igboho from going on with his secessionist agenda and now they are saying you cannot apprehend these people who are all over the place armed with AK47 riffles; and they themselves are claiming that government is sponsoring them.
“The day that President Buhari wants these killings to stop, it will stop. But for now I think that this is what they want and it is not strange to me because they have said it before. They want to take over the country, but some of us will fight that with the last pint of our blood, that I can assure you. We cannot keep quiet in the face of injustice. If you want us to keep quiet, you must also give us justice, then we can keep quiet.”
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent, DSP, Catherine Anene who confirmed the attack said the command had received information about three deaths in the attack.