Herdsmen: Nasarawa’s death toll rises to 25

At least, 25 people have been killed in selective attacks on villages in Awe, Keana and Doma local government areas of Nasarawa State by AK47-weilding men believed to be herdsmen. The herdsmen have continued to kill and attack with machete persons seen on roads or in farms.

This came as herdsmen on Monday night launched a gruesome attack on residents of Tse-Awashua village in Anyiin area of Logo Local Government Area of Benue State and slaughtered two Mobile policemen.

They also critically injured another one. To stem the tide of killings, President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the Inspector General of Police (IG), Ibrahim Idris, to relocate to the troubled area.
Keana Local Government Area recorded the highest number of deaths, followed by Awe Local Government Area where the assailants now lay siege to major roads to attack their victims despite several calls for calm by government and individuals within and outside the state. Beside those killed, a journalist, Mr. Augustine Kuza, who went to find out the situation on ground at Kuduku in Keana Local Government Area escaped death by a whisker.

Former Chairman of Tiv Consultative Forum in Keana Local Government Area, Chief Igbasue Kuza, told journalists yesterday in Lafia, the state capital that over 14 persons had so far been killed apart from unspecified numbers killed at Gidan Adidi village by the gunmen. He named communities where the killings took place to include Kuduku, Iornya, Apeele and Gidan Adidi just as he said many houses were set ablaze by the marauders. .
According to him, the victims met their death when they had gone to pick foodstuffs from their houses while some were killed on the road as they were scurrying into safety.
An Internally Displaced Person (IDP) in Awe, who gave his name simply as Orkuma, told journalists in Lafia that over six persons had been killed by the suspected Fulani herdsmen in places such as Gidan Wurji, Ampana and Taku in Azara.

He regretted the spate of killings by herdsmen in the area. According to him, herdsmen now lay siege to roads leading to villages to kill people.
Investigation revealed that about 300 suspected Fulani herdsmen armed with sophisticated weapons were brought into the state and stationed at Mararaban Igbabo on Agyaragu Ankoma Road in Doma Local Government Area and near Kuduku, a community that borders Guma Local Government Area of Benue State as well as Apeele in Keana, where they embarked on attacks.

The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Idirisu Kennedy, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), told our correspondent on the telephone that the command had report of the killing of two persons at Keana Local Government Area.

President Buhari’s directive to the IG came amidst reports of attacks on communities by rampaging herdsmen, whose coordinated attacks on Guma and Logo local government areas of Benue State had left over 50 people dead, with property destroyed.

However, the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Jimoh Moshood, a Chief Superintendent of Police, who conveyed the relocation order in a statement, said the IG would be moving in with five additional units of Police Mobile Force (PMF).

According to him, the latest deployment brings to 10 the total number PMF units in the state.

He said: “Following the recent unfortunate killings of innocent people in Guma and Logo local government areas of Benue State and the intervention, and ongoing efforts of the Nigeria Police Force to restore peace in the state, the President and Commander in Chief of Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, … has ordered … that the Inspector General of Police moves immediately to Benue State to restore law and order, prevent further loss of lives and forestall the crisis from escalating and spreading in the state…
“More units of the Police Special Forces, Counter-Terrorism Units, and conventional policemen are already being deployed to the state as at this time today to comply in totality with the presidential order.
“The Aerial Surveillance by police helicopters will continue, while the Police Mobile Force personnel, Police Special Forces and conventional police personnel, the Counter-Terrorism Unit (CTU), Police Explosive Ordinance Department (EOD) and Special Police Joint Intelligence and Investigation Teams already deployed to Benue State will carry on un-relentlessly with the patrols and crime prevention activities in the affected areas to sustain the normalcy that has been restored in the state.”

Meanwhile, the Force has threatened to deal with individuals and groups threatening peace and security.

It was learnt that earlier on Monday, the herdsmen had attacked the camp of a detachment of Mobile policemen from Mopol 13 stationed in Logo local Government Area of Benue State but they were repelled. They, however, later regrouped and attacked the camp in the evening.
One of the policemen, who survived the attack, told journalists that herdsmen, who came in large numbers, laid an ambush, raided the camp and overpowered the policemen before they slit the throats of two policemen in a nearby bush.

The assailants also burnt down many houses within the area after the attack, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes.
It was also learnt that the attack grounded all socio-economic activities while schools were equally deserted.

Another policeman, who was severely injured, was stabilised in Anyiin before he was moved to the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH) in Makurdi. The remains of those killed were evacuated to the morgue in Makurdi.

The state Police Command, led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, DCP Abdul Gimba, yesterday carried out an aerial surveillance and stopped over at Awashuwa while the bodies of slain policemen were being evacuated.

“Our men came under attack at Awashuwa in Logo Local Government Area. They were ambushed by the herdsmen who had tried to attack them earlier in the day but they were repelled. Two of our men were killed and their rifles taken away,” the survivor said.
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Moses Yamu, confirmed the killings.

Yamu disclosed that a reinforcement was sent to the area from 13 PMF led by the Commander, CSP Abubakar Garba.
Nigerian Army has also deployed Special Forces Brigade to rout out killer herdsmen, who have continued in the infamous rampage of blood-letting in Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa and other communities across the country.

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Turkur Buratai, disclosed this in Abuja when he received some ranch implements donated to the Army by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to the newly established Army Farms and Ranch at the Giri area of Abuja.
Buratai said the deployment of the Special Forces Brigade became necessary due to the threat which herdsmen and farmers’ clashes were posing to national security.

According to him, the Special Forces have been trained to professionally restore normalcy to the troubled communities, while ensuring that both human lives and food security was not jeopardised further.

COAS, who disclosed that the Nigerian Army had acquired about 436 hectares of land in Nasarawa State for a full blown ranch, also said that he was convinced that tackling food insecurity with increased participation of the Nigerian Army in agriculture value chains was imperative to solving the insecurity of lives and property in the country.

He said: “We are taking our special forces Brigade to tackle herders and farmers clashes in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and other communities.
“Nigerian Army is going into this value chain development in the agriculture sector to boost food security in the country. I believe that once the food insecurity is resolved, all other forms of insecurity would have been resolved also.”

Earlier in his remarks, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, while presenting the implements to COAS, said that Nigerian Army had demonstrated that cattle ranching was possible in Nigeria and the surest way out of current insecurity being generated by herdsmen and farmers’ clashes.

However, troops of 93 Battalion of the Nigerian Army stationed in Takum, Taraba State, have arrested nine well-armed militia men from Benue State.

The suspects claimed to be members of government sponsored security volunteers.
It was learnt that they were arrested at Arufu, a boundary town between Taraba and Benue states.


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