Herdsmen strike again in Benue, kill 20 in Agatu attack
Barely three days to the rescheduled general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), armed herdsmen suspected to be from Fulani extraction in the early hours of on Wednesday made an incursion into the Ebete Usha ward in Agatu local government area of Benue state leaving 17 local farmers and three Jukun hunters.
The Operation Whirl-Stroke (OPWS) of the Nigerian Army in a swift reply by its Commander, Major General Adeyemi Yekini, confirmed the killing saying the attackers accessed the Agatu community through Loko in neighbouring Nassarawa State.
It was gathered that the unprovoked attack which started at exactly 1:00 am when people were deeply asleep, saw scores of victims including women and children displaced, while many others were wounded.
Schools and hospitals and other economic and political activities in the area were also grounded to a halt.
A victim of the attack who identified himself as Daddy Seni whose father was among those killed alongside his siblings, told New Telegraph that he left his father at Ebete while heading to Aloko for fishing when he received a phone call from home asking him to turn back, that his father has been shot by Fulani herdsmen.
“On reaching where his father was lying down at the pool of blood about giving up, he sighted his father and was going to take him to the hospital when he heard a voice from his father saying, “my son, don’t bother about me and your siblings again, ours have finished, we can’t survive these gunshots, run for your dear life to tell others about this”, then he gave up.
Seni who narrated the incident to the Agatu local government Chairman, Hon Oyigocho who rushed to Ebete with some council members alongside security men, said he heard the killers speaking Fulani language while trying to run from the scene as he (Seni) hid in the bush.
He said, among those gruesomely murdered, were three Jukun hunters who were hunting animal before they met their untimely death, while two others sustained serious bullet wounds and were rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Reacting to the incidents, the Acting Chairman Agatu Local Government Council, Hon. Alhaji Oyigocho appealed to the government to quickly come to their aid.
Alhaji Oyigocho said the attack occurred at a time Nigerians are preparing to elect their new leaders in this Saturday elections, adding that, if the situation continues, it will disorganize so many things.
He said his people have never taken laws into their hands despite provocations from herdsmen whom he said had taken over farmlands in most parts of Agatu land.
The Agatu chairman urged his people to remain calm to allow the law enforcement agencies to carry out their duties effectively.
The Commander of OPWS, Major Major General Yekini who said he received report of the attack after the assailants attacked and retreated, could not give casualty figure but said that their men were deployed to the area on patrol.
He said, “the location where it happened, although is in Benue State can better be accessed through Loko in Nassarawa state”.
Meanwhile, Governor Samuel Ortom has condemned the brutal attack and killing of innocent Agatu people and called on security agencies to move in to forestall further attacks.
The governor who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Terver Akase said, “this is quite unfortunate and condemnable. The government of Benue state condemned this and urges security agencies to mediate and move in to forestall further attacks on innocent people of Benue State, Professor Tor this is because we cannot afford to have another round of killings that we had in 2018”.
“I can confirm that the Governor of Benue State met earlier today (yesterday) with the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Bishi and he confirmed that there was attack in Ebete in Agatu in which seventeen persons were killed by suspected armed herdsmen”.
“We feel that this is unfortunate, because the governor had raised an alarm that some persons for political reasons are planning to unleash armed herdsmen on innocent people to create fear in the people for political gains”. – New Telegraph.