President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday condemned in strong terms the recent bout of killings in Benue State in which tens of people were killed in Umogidi community of Entekpa-Adoka in Otukpo Local Government Area of the state, urging that all efforts be made to end the “extreme violence.”
This is just as Governor Samuel Ortom appealed to President Buhari to match words with action by deploying more troops to stem the killings in the affected areas.
However, in a fresh incident on Friday night, no fewer than 43 internally displaced people (IDPs) were killed in a late-night attack on LGEA Primary School Mgban, in Nyiev Council Ward of Guma LGA of Benue State by suspected armed herders.
It was learnt that the marauders stormed the primary school, which houses IDPs, at around 10 p.m. on Good Friday.
According to an eyewitness, there were infants and pregnant women among the 43 bodies that have so far been removed from the scene of the attack.
While scores of others have suffered severe injuries, many people are still missing.
The attack came a few days after a similar attack in Umogidi village, Enetekpa Adoka district of Otukpo LGA claimed 52 lives.
Reacting to the attack in Otukpo LGA, President Buhari, in a statement issued on Saturday by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, condemned the use of terrorism as a tool in inter-communal conflicts.
He urged that the attackers be found and dealt with swiftly under the law.
President Buhari conveyed his grief and sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives due to the attack and directed the secret services, police, and military commanders to enhance surveillance on every front and to immediately review the security management in the affected areas.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those murdered. The entire nation stands united in the fight against the forces of terror and evil,” said the president.
Narrating the latest incident in Guma LGA, a resident identified as Jonah disclosed that the armed men attacked the community around 10 pm on Friday.
According to Jonah, a pregnant woman and her son were among those killed while many people were injured.
The Security Adviser of the Guma LGA, Christopher Waku, however, stated that 34 people were killed while over 40 both
ers were injured.
Waku said he was at the scene of the incident, adding that the people killed were displaced from their various ancestral homes and were taking refuge at a classroom in LGEA Mgban.
He said: “We recovered 24 corpses inside the classroom while the remaining 10 bodies were picked up along the road in the community. They were killed while running away.
“It happened yesterday (Friday), about a few minutes after 9 pm. Some armed men suspected to be herders came and attacked the community called Mgban; killing 34 persons while over 40 were severely injured and have been taken to the hospital. This killing can best be described as genocide.”
The incident is the latest in the spate of killings happening in the state.
On Wednesday, no fewer than 52 persons were killed in an attack by gunmen on Umogidi village of Entekpa-Adoka district of Otukpo Local Government Area.
In March, it was reported that 50 persons were allegedly killed by suspected herders who invaded communities in Kwande LGA of the state.
In February, some gunmen were also said to have attacked the Ikobi community in Apa LGA, killing three persons.
THISDAY had reported how three kinsmen of Governor Samuel Ortom were killed by the gunmen.
Triggered by the killings, hundreds of youths, on Friday, mounted roadblocks on the Otukpo-Oweto-Abuja federal highway in protest, leading to the disruption of vehicular movement that was reportedly disrupted for several hours.
The youths held banners protesting the insecurity in the state. Some of the banners read: “Bleeding constituency, save Apa/Agatu, preserve Idomas.”
Speaking with journalists yesterday, the state police spokesperson, Sewuese Anene, confirmed the attack on Friday night, but the casualty figure was yet to be determined.
Sewuese further added that the commissioner of police, Wale Abasse will visit the scene of the attack to ascertain what happened, and the casualty figures.
This attack followed the killing of a traditional ruler in Apa LGA earlier in the week along with many others before the attackers moved to the Otukpo LGA on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Ortom, who visited Mgbam community in Nyiev council ward of Guma LGA, yesterday, urged President Buhari to match words with action by deploying more troops to stem the killings in the affected areas.
The governor put the number of persons killed in the last five days in Otukpo, Apa and Guma LGAs at 134.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja and George Okoh in Makurdi