June 15, 2024

Open grazing: Many injured as armed herdsmen attack Benue Livestock Guard officials

killing of herders in Plateau

By Peter Duru, Makurdi

Members of the Benue Livestock Guards, BLSGs, at the weekend narrowly escaped death when they came under attack by armed herdsmen and their friend for impounding several cattle that grazed on people’s farms and destroyed several crops at Kwua community, behind Makurdi Modern Market.

It was gathered that the crisis which left several of BLSGs personnel with serious injuries started Friday evening at about 5 pm when the herdsmen led their cattle into the community to graze on farms and were confronted by personnel of the BLSG following a tip-off from the community.

According to the eyewitness, the personnel of BLSGs on arriving at the community, impounded the cattle while the herdsmen took to their heels.

He said, “but the herders went and mobilised their brothers and friends, armed with guns and knives they came back for the BLSG personnel who were moving the impounded cattle to designated government confinement centre pending the arrival of their owners.

“They intercepted and confronted the BLSGs officials close to the Makurdi Modern Market gate, shooting sporadical and cutting people with knives in order to forcefully recover the impounded cattle. In the process several persons including personnel of BLSGs sustained serious injuries.

“The crisis created pandemonium in the area as people scampered to safety while commercial and business activities were disrupted.

“Though police personnel also moved to the scene but the armed herdsmen and their gang resisted them and took the impounded cattle away.”

Reacting in a statement, the Special Adviser to the Benue State Governor on Internal Security, Chief Joseph Har who confirmed the development said a raid was carried out Saturday morning that led to the arrest of some of the suspects.

The Security Adviser in the statement said, “the Benue State Internal Security in collaboration with the Police today June 15, 2024 raided the Wadata abattoir and Awe street in Makurdi. This came on the heels of yesterday’s obstruction, assault, criminal force, intimidation and causing grievous hurt perpetrated by the hoodlums from Wadata.

“It happened when some cattle went grazing on farms along the River bank axis and the attention of the Livestock Guards was drawn to it. The Guards apprehended the cattle but they came under attack at the Modern Market gate by youths numbering up to 60, armed with guns and matchets from Wadata. They shot and severally cut personnel of the BSLG and recovered the cattle.

“Operation Zenda were drafted but they too were attacked by the hoodlums in Wadata.

“The Anti Open Grazing and Ranches Establishment Law is not meant to be against the Fulani people but to be obeyed by anyone that wished to breed cattle in the state. Moreso, for a group of youths to pick up arms against state officials in the state capital is a source of concern and worry.

“So this (Saturday) morning, a combined team of the Anti Cultism, Zenda, D5, BSCPG and the BSLG swung into action and conducted an operation where two persons were arrested and the Bajaj motorbike that the Wadata boys stole was recovered from them.

“Thereafter, the team proceeded to the notorious Awe street where 11 other persons were also arrested.”

Effort to reach the Police Public Relations Officer, Superintendent, SP, Catherine Anene was unsuccessful.