INVESTIGATION: Herdsmen attacks claim 1,269 lives in Benue
Attacks by Fulani herdsmen in the North-central Nigerian state of Benue has led to the killing of at least escalated 1, 269 persons, investigations by PREMIUM TIMES have shown.
Out of the 23 local government areas in the state, the rampaging herdsmen have invaded and occupied 14 and may invade the remaining nine unless urgent measures are taken to curb the menace, authorities said.
Our findings, confirmed by residents, security officials and the state governor, also showed that in the North-east Senatorial District of the state, the herdsmen have invaded Katsina-Ala, Kwande, Logo, Ukum; leaving out Vandeikya, Konshisha and Ushongo.
In Benue North-east Senatorial District, the killer herdsmen have attacked all the other local government councils except Gboko.
The council areas invaded and occupied by the killer herdsmen include Guma, Gwer-West, Gwer-East, Buruku, Tarka and Makurdi local government councils.
The invasion of Ogbadibo, Agatu and Apa local government areas in Benue South Senatorial District are however believed to be the most brutal.
On February 29, for instance, the herdsmen invaded several Agatu villages and farm settlements in broad daylight, gunning down children, women, men and the elderly.
At the time the gunshots subsided, over 500 villagers were reportedly massacred and over 7000 were displaced in 10 villages including Aila, Okokolo, Akwu, Adagbo, Odugbehon and Odejo.
The Paramount Ruler of Logo Local Government Area, Jimmy Memme, told this newspaper that between July 1 and 16, the herdsmen murdered over 85 persons, including women and children, from six out of the 10 wards in the area.
The affected communities include Nengev, Turan, Ukemberagya/Tswarev, Mbagber, Yonov and Tombo wards.
Many Benue indigenes, who spoke to this newspaper, expressed sadness that while the herdsmen had been killing residents and plundering their communities, the federal government recently commissioned a military task force to protect herdsmen and their cattle in Zamfara State.
They call on President Muhammadu Buhari to expeditiously set up a special military task force to check the menace of herdsmen, not only in Benue but across the country.
Below is a timeline of herdsmen attacks on communities and the resultant killings in the state between 2013 and July 2016.
The statistic of the killings was obtained from local journalists, community leaders and the Movement Against Fulani Occupation, MAFO.