Marauding herdsmen invaded several communities in three local government areas of Benue State on Monday night and killed 25 people, including a traditional ruler.
The armed herders were said to have invaded Tse-Sumaka village in the Mbadwem Council Ward of Guma Local Government Area, killing nine people and injuring one.
A traditional ruler was reportedly killed in Gaambetiev, while many others were critically injured and several houses burnt at Avalumun Ioraav in Turan Council Ward of Logo LG.
At Tiortyu community in Tarka LG, another 15 people were murdered by the marauding herders.
The state governor, Samuel Ortom; and his predecessor, Gabriel Suswam, hail from Guma and Logo Local Government Areas respectively, and the two council areas have been constant targets of attack by herders since 2018.
The Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs and one time governor of the state, Senator George Akume, hails from Tarka LG.
The marauding herders allegedly invaded the communities simultaneously.
The killing in Tarka LG triggered protest by youths who displayed bodies of the victims along the Makurdi/Gboko Federal Highway in the early hours of Tuesday.
The protest disrupted vehicular movement for hours.
Confirming the attacks, the state governor’s Security Adviser, Lt Col Paul Hemba (retd.), said they were carried out simultaneously in the three local government areas, adding that more corpses might still be recovered.
Hemba said, “Yes, those incidents actually happened in Guma, Logo and Tarka. So far, nine corpses have been recovered from Guma.
“In Tarka where I am just coming from with the Commissioner of Police, 15 corpses were recovered, but we strongly suspect that more corpses may be recovered from bushes.
“We are arranging to patrol the bushes because certain persons have not been seen. It is also believed that the attackers left with some persons alive.
“In Logo, the same thing happened and a traditional ruler was murdered, but now that I am back, I will get back to my contacts to see if the figure has risen from the one I got last night.”
The security adviser, however, said killings were carried out by suspected herders, happening about the same time in all the locations.
“Those who were injured and those who escaped the attack confirmed the attackers were herdsmen,” he stated.
When contacted, the state police command’s spokesman, Catherine Anene, said she had gone to one of the scenes of the incident.
“I am currently at the scene of the incident with the police commissioner. I will communicate you soon,” Anene said.
Reacting to the killings, the state governor, Samuel Ortom, on Tuesday, said the incessant killings of the people of the state by suspected herders had turned him and the people into endangered species.
Ortom, in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, and made available to journalists in Makurdi, directed his people to rise up to defend themselves forthwith.
He stated, “It is becoming increasingly glaring everyday that my people are now endangered species and so we can no longer wait for help. My people will have to rise to the occasion to defend themselves and their heritage against the Fulani army of occupation.
“We are law-abiding citizens. We have cried for help against these invaders but nothing is forthcoming. We are left alone and it looks like it is a deliberate strategy. Now, we have only one option; to defend ourselves or be extinct. This is a case for our survival.
“We have been accommodating other people in our land, but our hospitality is misconstrued as weakness. We are not a conquered people. We will never be. We are free-born citizens of Nigeria.”
Ortom, however, enjoined security operatives to do more in crime prevention and the protection of lives and property in the state, just as he urged the people to cooperate with security agencies to flush out the undesirable elements in the society.
The governor added that the state government would not shy away from its commitment to provide welfare and the security for its citizens.