Markurdi, the capital of Nigerian North Central state Benue has been engulfed in tumultuous protests, after suspected Fulani herdsmen allegedly killed over 50 people on Tuesday.
Reports late Tuesday morning had indicated that rampaging Fulani herdsmen invaded Tse Igbudu Taraka community of the state, killing innocent women and children.
Reacting to the killings of their kinsmen, residents of Markurdi yesterday trooped to the streets to protest against Tuesday’s killing of people in two local government areas of Benue State, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the killings in parts of the state or resign from office as President.
The President yesterday through his media aid had described the attacks as unacceptable, and assured people of the state that the attackers would be brought to justice and future incidents prevented.
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, described the incident as ‘one attack too many,’ and promised that everything would be done to provide security for the people in rural communities. Buhari expressed “immense sadness at the wicked and callous attacks on even innocent children, and assured the governor and people of the state that relevant security agencies had been directed to do everything possible to arrest those behind the incidents and avert further attacks.
Following the incident, the Benue state police command which claims to have responded swiftly to the attack says it has arrested eight herdsmen, six in Guma and two in Logo, in connection with the attacks.
Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Moses Yamu, in a statement in Makurdi, also said that the command had made additional deployments in the troubled area to forestall further attacks and restore confidence of the people. Yamu stressed that the situation in the two local government areas had been brought under control while investigation was ongoing.
Meanwhile appealed has called on the Federal Government to immediately arrest the leadership of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore over the killings. He said: “The president and secretary of that group had threatened to invade Benue State, they have made good their threat. I am accusing them directly, they should be arrested, and there are no sacred cows in this country if we all must be seen to be Nigerians.”
One too many slaughters in Benue:
Benue state had long been a hit for Fulani herdsmen who had always clashed with the states farmers.
On the 5th of May 2013, there was reckless massacres and wanton destruction of property and threat to the peaceful existence of the Benue residents by the Fulani invaders started. This started in Agatu.
In that incident, the herdsmen attacked with petrol, explosives, swords and very sophisticated weapons as they descended on communities along the bank of River Benue including Olegoga, Olegadechono, Alogba, Olegotekwu, Olegogbeche, Olegodege, Olegeje, Adana, Imminyi, Abogbe, Ocholonya, Olegomakwu, Akpeko and Okokolo. All the buildings were virtually destroyed.
The spate of killings and ethnic cleansing against Agatu people by the herdsmen took another dimension on May12, 2013 when a large number of Fulani warriors entered Agatu through Oweto and headed to Ekwo Okpanchenyi and Iwali as early as 7am. The Fulani militia shot at defenseless women and children while others armed with machetes and hatchets hacked young people to death. The innocent and unarmed people ran frantically and were sprayed with bullets. The attackers then proceeded to Ikpele 1 and 2, Okokpolo, Ogbayi and Ogwumogbo to do same.
Like locusts, Fulani herdsmen, in a reprisal attack, stormed the communities of Okwutanobe and Egwuma on August 16, 2013. October 28, 2013 was the turn of Ogwule Ankpa. The attackers killed so many people, looted property, burnt down houses and destroyed valuables.
November 9, 2013 was another black day when Okpagabi community had a share of the Agatu woes and the attackers proceeded to Ello and Ichogolugwu. And like whirlwind, they descended on Ogbagede, Enicha, Ejima 1 and 2. Ogbayi and Ogwumogbo also had their second round of attacks.
Egba community had its turn on March 15, 2015 when Christian worshippers were murdered in cold blood. Over 100 people including Sunday school children lost their lives.
The wanton killings forced state governor Samuel Ortom to set up an anti-open grazing law, which forbids herdsmen from openly grazing their cattle within the states metropolis.
1st of November 2017 was a date set to fully implement the anti-open grazing law, but despite appeals by the state government to stakeholders involved especially the leadership of the Miyetti Allah in the state, the law seem to have made little or no impact.