Agony, tears, blood in Plateau, Benue

•As bandits, herdsmen kill 45, sack villages 

From Scholastica Onyeka, Makurdi

Bandits continued with their killing spree leaving tears, sorrows and blood flowing in Plateau and Benue with no fewer than 45 people reportedly killed in fresh attacks on various villages in the two states in the past 72 hours.  

Daily Sun gathered that 35 people were reportedly ambushed and killed by suspected Fulani bandits in Fungzai and Kubwat villages of Lombin District of Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State.

The attackers, who ambushed a moving vehicle conveying women and children who were fleeing out of a community under heavy attack, killed and maimed the occupants. 

A community leader, Ephraim Sariyem, who lost four family members in the attack, informed that 29 people were killed in Fungzai village and seven houses burnt, while nine people were killed in Kubwat, houses burnt and several people inflicted with gunshot injuries.

He said: “In my community, Fungzai, we have counted 29 bodies and seven houses destroyed, while in a neighbouring village, Kubat, over nine bodies have been recovered and houses burnt. We are asking for all forms of interventions.” 

Plateau governor-elect, Caleb Mutfwang, received with rude shock the bloody attack on Fungzai and Kubwat villages, where women and children were mostly affected. Mutfwang, in a press statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Gyang Bere, condemned, in totality, the attack which also left several people injured and houses with valuables worth millions of naira destroyed.

He appealed to security agencies to rise up to their constitutional responsibility of protecting and securing citizens, particularly rural dwellers. The governor-elect urged security agencies to collaborate within the ambit of the law and apprehend the perpetrators to face the full wrath of the law.

He admonished communities to strengthen community relations and activate internal security mechanisms, such as the vigilante groups and hunters associations, and work in unison with security agencies to protect and secure citizens.

Mutfwang also appealed to peace loving and patriotic citizens of Plateau and the environs to be committed to peaceful co-existence and unite for maximum protection and safety of citizens. He commiserated with the people of Fungzai village, particularly the bereaved families, and prayed for quick recovery of those who were injured as a result of the unfortunate attack.

The governor-elect appealed for calm among citizens and reassured Plateau residents of his total commitment to a peaceful and united state.

Meanwhile, Plateau State Governor, Simon Bako Lalong, in a press statement by his Director, Press and Public Affairs, Dr. Makut Simon Macham, said he was seriously disturbed about the sad development and immediately directed security forces to pursue the attackers and ensure they are arrested. He described the attack as yet another attempt by crisis merchants and criminals to return the state to the dark days of pain and agony, vowing that the government will stop at nothing to ensure that those behind the scheme are dealt with mercilessly. 

The governor commiserated with the victims and assured that the murderers will not go unpunished. He equally directed the State Emergency Management Agency and the Peace Building Agency to visit the area and ascertain the humanitarian need, so as to bring succour to the affected, while thorough investigation is being carried out.

Also, gunmen suspected to be herdsmen militia  attacked communities in Apa and Gwer West Local Government Areas of Benue State and killed 10 people. Sources from the areas told newsmen in Makurdi that while four people were killed in Apa LGA, six others were killed in Gwer West LGA.

The National Chairman, Apa Development Association, Barrister Eche Akpoko, said three villages were attacked last Friday/Saturday by suspected herdsmen, including Akpanta, Ochumeko and Ijaha villages. 

He said: “Akpanta and Ogwuji villages were burnt down and the attackers killed three people at Ijaha village.

Also speaking, the Ter Makurdi, Chief Vincent Aule, said the herders killed six people in Ucheen, community of Gwer West, while one person fell and died on seeing his relatives’ dead bodies.

“Yes, it happened in Ucheen village, after Adaka, a border community in Makurdi. They came yesterday, Monday, at 2:30am and killed about six people. They killed one woman, her husband and their child. They were sleeping when they came and killed three of them. Then, they also killed three other people. One other person also died; a man who was related to the husband and wife. He came that morning and saw them lying on the ground, he fell down and died. They took him to the hospital, but he later died,” he said.

Chief Aule, who said he visited the area, Tuesday morning, in company of the police, described the attack as a pathetic sight.  

“There was no issue with these people, but they have been coming there to attack the people. We have reported to the Commissioner of Police and the security adviser,” Aule said.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Catherine Anene, confirmed the attack in Ucheen, saying five people were killed.

He said policemen have been detailed to the area and their bodies deposited at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH), Makurdi. He said the investigation was ongoing. She was, however, not able to confirm the attacks in Apa LGA.


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