By Peter Duru, Makurdi
ALARMED by incessant attacks and killings by armed herders, the Benue State Government has taken steps to open up communities surrounded by dense forests which have been providing cover for hoodlums to unleash attacks on innocent communities with ease. Under the strategy, the state is clearing out some forests and constructing new access roads and infrastructure to make it possible for security agents to access such places without hindrance. The new strategy appears to be yielding positive results given the drastic drop in the incidents of herdsmen killings in the forest areas of the state.
Before the administration took the bull by the horn by embarking on the 23-kilometre Mobile Police Barracks-Adeke-Welfare Quarters-Yaiko-Apir Junction road construction project, that axis of the state capital was witnessing countless attacks by armed herdsmen and bandits who established camps in the wide expanse of forest from where they launched attacks on any chosen target.
But respite has come the way of the locals as the opening up of the densely wooded communities has created easy access for security patrols on that stretch of Makurdi outskirts. The incidents of herdsmen attacks and killings in that part of the state capital have also been curbed.
In addition, the flag off of work on the 55-kilometre Makurdi-Yogbo-Udei-Branch Udei Road, another notorious axis of herdsmen’s bloody attacks, has also brought relief to the numerous communities on that stretch which runs through Makurdi up to Nasarawa State.
Before now, this densely forested axis that had also witnessed regular herders incursions and killings of civilian and security personnel who attempted to access the inaccessible communities. But the end-to-end grading of that stretch of road, being the initial work on the project, has to a large extent checked the activities of the marauders. Suffice it to state that since the commencement of work on that road no major incident has been recorded as the forested communities have been opened up and made accessible.
Another axis of bloodbath that harbours acres of forested land is the boundary communities between Guma and Logo LGAs of the state. It was in this forest that armed herders bared their fangs during the 2018 New Year’s Day massacre. As if that bloody attack was not enough, they have been unleashing assaults on the locals without any serious and timely response from security agencies.
But determined to put the activities of the bandits in check, the Benue State Government awarded the contract for the construction of the 39-kilometre Tse Ginde-Fada-Wergba Road in Saghev Council Ward of Guma LGA. With the ongoing work on that road, which links Guma and Logo LGAs, the communities are already opening up and when completed it is expected to ease communication among the adjoining villages. It will also to a large extent bring to an end the heinous activities in communities that have so frequently tasted the brute force of mindless armed herders who have turned the area into an enclave for launching attacks since the 2018 massacre.
Governor Samuel Ortom explained that the idea of awarding contracts for the roads was to open up the rural communities and enhance security at all times for the well-being of the people. He assured that the roads alongside the Tomatar-Agenke-Tse Ginde road spanning 93 kilometres would be completed and commissioned before the end of his tenure.
The Commissioner of Works, Jude Uungwa, an engineer, expressed optimism that the incessant attacks on border communities in the state by armed militias would become a thing of the past once the new roads being embarked upon by the administration are completed. “I want to believe that by the time work on these roads are completed it will aid the security architecture as well as aid the agricultural value chain to enhance food production,” Mr. Unngwa assured.