45 Feared Dead In Herdsmen, Militia Attack On Benue Communities


  • THURSDAY, MARCH 7, 2024
  • 45 Feared Dead In Herdsmen, Militia Attack On Benue Communities

45 Feared Dead In Herdsmen, Militia Attack On Benue Communities


By Tor Vande-Acka On Mar 6, 2024

…..30 Injured, Scores Missing, Displaced

The killings in Sankera axis, particularly Ukum Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue State has remained unabated resulting in the killing of about 45 persons in the area on Tuesday.

However, the member in the Benue State House of Assembly (BNHA), representing Ukum State constituency, Ezra Nyiyongo said about 20 people lost their lives in the incident.

The incident which took place in Gbagir community of Ukum LGA and also claimed the lives of a family of seven, left 30 persons with various degrees of injury, while scores have been declared missing.

In the attack by the herdsmen, who were working with members of a militia group in the area, in its bid to eliminate another militia group, Daily Independent learned that most of those that were killed were members of the two rival militia gangs.

However, while we gathered that about 12 peasant farmers who were caught in the cross fire were among the dead, the people of Gbagir and its environs have been displaced, following the killings in the area.

A top military brass in Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), who would not want his name in print, confirmed the attack and the circumstances surrounding the incident.

He said, “These are militia men killing themselves. Yes, we acknowledge that probably one or two people may have been caught in the cross fire, but the majority of the people that were killed are members of the militia gangs in the area.

“Currently, we are in Kwande and are trying to contain the situation in the area and as you can see, calm has been restored to the area. We have been able to flush the herdsmen out of Kwande and I can assure you normalcy would be restored.

“But be that as it may, our troops are in the area (Ukum), to ensure that the attack does not affect innocent people.”

Meanwhile, the State Commissioner of Police (CP), Emmanuel Adeshina said more police officers have been deployed to the area to contain the situation.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a traditional ruler in the area explained that the fight started on Tuesday morning following a disagreement between one rival gang and the other who was backed by the herdsmen over the weekend.

He stated that “What followed was that another militia gang leader in Ukum now went and joined forces with the Fulani militia gang in Taraba to help them eliminate the rival gang in Ukum.

“The essence was to enable him be the head of militia in Ukum. The combined forces of the herdsmen and militia gang started moving into the bushes of Gbagir in their hundreds from Sunday to sack the other rival gang.

“From what we gathered over 45 persons who were mainly bandits have been killed, though we have record of about 12 farmers who were caught in the cross fire. Over 30 others were injured while some are also missing.

“Sadly caught in the cross fire was a family of seven in Tse Adzandeh Mbasaa, Mbajiga, Ityuluv, Torov. They were all members of the Adzandeh family.

“The armed men have also spread to the bushes of Gbeji, Chito and Afia (communities), in their numbers but cannot move into the residential area because of the timely intervention of troops of OPWS.

“In fact when people noticed the movement of the armed Fulani militia into Benue communities, the Chiefs (traditional rulers) informed the political leaders who immediately briefed Governor Hyacinth Alia, who equally alerted the military for swift action.

“It was this timely response of the Governor to the intel and the intervention of the OPWS that saved the people of Ukum LGA, because we gathered that they planned to kill hundreds of people in Ukum. It is their gang war and innocent residents have nothing to do with that.”

The source further noted that “Over 1,000 of them (assailants) have laid siege on Ukum LGA as we speak that is why we are appealing to the military to save us before they wipe out our innocent families.

“We need more security posts in and around the area and we also appeal to the Governors of Benue and Taraba States to team up and put an end to the activities of these cross border criminals. They should support the military with logistics also.

“As we speak these people are still in the bushes in Ukum, they have not moved back to Taraba.

“There is urgent need to protect the other three villages because we are hearing that the first phase of the attack was in Gbagir, while Chito, Gbeji and Afia might be next.

“We are also appealing for fortified military presence in all the Benue and Taraba border communities”, the source pleaded.

Source: https://independent.ng/45-feared-dead-in-herdsmen-militia-attack-on-benue-communities/

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