Benue killings: Death toll hits 20


From Scholastica Onyeka, MakurdiThe death toll from the attack by marauding herdsmen militia on Ukohol community in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State, between Thursday evening and Friday morning last week, has risen to 20, including children and a security personnel.The dastardly attack left several people injured while hundreds of those displaced were seen fleeing to the neighbouring town of Daudu.One of the survivors, Saakuma Udenyi, said the attackers first struck on the evening of last Thursday, when people of the community were retiring for the day. He said the attackers shot indiscriminately at several people and inflicted machete cuts on those who tried to flee, stating that the attackers returned in the morning last Friday, killed a security personnel and burnt down several houses.The latest attack by armed herdsmen on Ukohol community is coming barely two weeks after similar attacks were launched on Gbeji community in Ukum Local Government Area of Benue State. Thirty-six people, including two policemen, were massacred with others missing, following armed herders’ attack on Gbeji community in the early hours of Wednesday, October 19, 2022.The renewed spate of attacks on Benue communities has sparked reactions from individuals and groups who have condemned what they described as coordinated genocide targeted at defenceless innocent citizens.The Secretary, Forum of Concerned Nigerians, Samson Ochono, has condemned the unprovoked killings, noting that the killer herdsmen are emboldened by recent comments of PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.Alhaji Abubakar, who holds the highest chieftaincy title for non-Tiv indigenes, the Zege Mule U Tiv, during an interactive session organised by the Arewa Joint Committee in Kaduna, was quoted as saying: “I am angry with Governor Ortom for profiling Fulani as bandits and terrorists because I am a Fulani.”Following the massacre of 36 people in Gbeji by invading Fulani herdsmen, Abubakar also took to his Facebook page, describing the killings as farmer/herder clashes. He particularly insisted that for peace to reign, Benue people should integrate Fulani people into communities of the state, an unguarded statement which drew wide condemnation from Nigerians.Reacting to the latest bloody attack on Ukohol community, Secretary, Forum of Concerned Nigerians, Ochono, stated that, “It is obvious the Federal Government is complicit in this acts of terror. The insensitive comments of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, concerning the killings, have also emboldened the killer herdsmen,” he insisted.Official statistics from the state government suggested that since 2011 Benue State has been facing perennial attacks by marauding Fulani herdsmen with, at least, 5,000 people, including over 120 security personnel murdered in cold blood by the assailants. The state currently has over two million people living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps.

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