Local government chairmen and leaders of the three main tribes in Benue state, under the aegis of Mzough U Tiv, Ochetoha K’Idoma and Onmi’Nyi Igede, have stated that 1,773 people have been killed in the state by armed herdsmen between 2018 and 2020
The leaders who spoke at a press conference in Makurdi, on Monday requested the deployment of Special forces to entry points into Benue State in order to curb the activities of the herdsmen.
The Chairmen of Ukum LGA, Mr Steve Ayua, who addressed the newsmen, disclosed that the herdsmen have attacked communities in 21 out of the 23 local government areas of the state with the latest attack being the invasion of a community in Mbayatyo, Mbater Council ward of Logo LGA.
“The attacks have led to the destruction of properties worth billions of Naira in over 200 wards and communities in the state.
Mr Ayua revealed that the herders come under the guise of cattle grazing and turn the farms into killing fields.
“It is on record that open grazing has led to the invasion of farming communities by Fulani herdsmen leading to massive killings and maiming of people, including children, raping of women, destruction of properties, loss of livelihoods and displacement of persons.”
“Between January 11, 2018, and now, armed herdsmen have killed 1,773 people, those traced and accounted for in Benue State. The killers no longer come with cows. They carry AK47.
“The negative impact of open grazing which often results in attacks has adversely affected the local economy as farmers are prevented from accessing their farms and local markets are also deserted for fear of imminent invasion by the killers.
“The continued rise in the attacks by Fulani herdsmen has also led to mass displacement of persons leading to desertion of farm lands. Over 1.5 million people have been displaced in the state. Some of the displaced persons are currently living in Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps and others are living in host communities or with their relatives in townships.
“Farmers who have attempted to go back to farm their land are either killed or maimed by herdsmen. This sad development is leading to food insecurity and poverty in the state.
“What could be worse than the killing of bereaved people mourning the death of a loved one? While we condemn the act in strong terms, we call on the security formations, who have been making efforts to curtail the heightened insecurity in the Sankera axis and other parts of Benue State to arrest perpetrators of the heinous crime and bring them to justice.”
By Ijeoma Ilekanachi