The 14 Local Government Council Chairmen severely suffering herdsmen attacks in Benue state alongside leaders of the three main tribes in the state, under the aegis of Mzough U Tiv, Ochetoha K’Idoma and Onmi’Nyi Igede have raised the alarm over the ceaseless activities of armed herdsmen across the state saying over 1,773 have been killed in the state by the marauders between 2018 and 2021, Vanguard reports.
The leaders in a joint press briefing Monday in Makurdi called for the deployment of personnel of the Special Forces to the border communities of the state to check the marauders’ unhindered access into the state especially as the dry season set in.
In the text which was read on their behalf by the Chairman of Ukum LGA, Mr. Steve Ayua, the leaders lamented that aside claiming lives “the attacks have led to the destruction of property worth billions of Naira” in over 200 Council Wards and communities of the State.
According to them, “the herders come under the guise of cattle grazing and turn our farms into killing fields. 21 out of the 23 LGAs of Benue State have suffered one form of herders’ attacks or the other.”
The leaders who exonerated the people of cattle rustling, blamed the herders of rustling each other’s cattle but turn around to accuse the locals, noting that “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 property, 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 have 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, IDP, camps and others are living in host communities or with their relatives in townships.
“Farmers who have attempted to go back and till their land are either killed or maimed by herdsmen. This sad development is leading to food insecurity and poverty in the state.
“The latest of the callous and inhuman atrocities came in the morning of November 13, 2021 when some gunmen invaded a community in Mbayatyo, Mbater Council ward of Logo LGA killing scores of mourners at a wake for one of their departed relatives.
“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.”
On their call for the deployment of personnel of the Special Forces to the state’s border communities, the leaders said, “we believe that the deployment of troops to the affected areas will guarantee safety and enable our displaced people to return to their ancestral homes.”