Chief Bernard Shawa, the traditional ruler of Nyiev community in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State, has acknowledged the death of 39 of his people, including his two children, by suspected herdsmen who attacked the town’s Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps on Good Friday.
The monarch further said that 38 additional victims of the attack suffered serious injuries and were airlifted to the Benue State University Teaching Hospital in Makurdi.
When Governor Samuel Ortom and his Deputy, Benson Abounu, visited the community for an on-the-spot evaluation of the situation, Chief Shawa made the disclosure.
In the midst of screaming and crying from residents, the monarch described how armed herders assaulted the hamlet between 9 and 10 p.m. Friday, stating, “I was sitting outside with my children when we started hearing gunshots from across the road.”We started escaping, but two of my children, a boy and a girl, were gunned down by Fulani people.
“And because we have a checkpoint on the road, and displaced people usually take shelter at the LGEA Primary School, they opened fire on the IDPs and people in the community, shooting and killing our people as they spoke the language.”
“They also attacked our community on February 25, 2023, before today.” They slaughtered 12 persons on that day.”
The royal father praised Governor Ortom for bringing a delegation to the community to express his condolences over the disaster.
Governor Ortom, who called the incident as sad and regrettable, stated that the people of the state established a legislation barring open grazing, which they believed would bring peace to the state, but that certain Fulani groups objected to the provisions of the law by violating it.
He stated he saw President Muhammadu Buhari’s sympathy message for the deaths and said, “Condolence messages cannot be enough; the President must issue marching orders to security agencies to fish out these terrorist groups and bring them to justice.”
“Anything that needs to be done must be done,” added the Governor, “because our people have suffered for far too long.” How can you explain why people you drove away from their ancestral homes sought to find sanctuary in a primary school camp, and you did this to them? This is not right, how do you justify the deaths and pains. People who perpetrate this must be punished in accordance with the law.”
While remembering the tragic killings in Umogidi and other parts of the state, the Governor said he had always appealed to the people to remain calm even when all manner of things were done during the last election “I restrained myself because I want peace and my political ambition is not worth the blood of even an infant.”
The Governor chastised the opposition for blaming him for the state’s never-ending attacks and killings, saying, “Castigating and vilifying me and blaming me when our people are being killed by terrorists is not right.”
He asked the opposition to wait until May 29 to assume state leadership, “then they can do whatever they want with the law that was made by the people themselves,” but “for now, I remain Governor of the state.”
He stated that the government was convening an emergency meeting of the State Security Council to discuss and resolve the recent attacks in the state.
According to reports, the majority of the victims of the incident were women and children.
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