BY PETER DURU MAKURDI — It was a sad and sorrowful day for Benue State again, yesterday, as no fewer than 26 persons were confirmed killed Monday evening in a bloody attack on Omusu village, at Ojigo Ward, Edumoga in Okpokwu Local Government Area of the state by suspected herdsmen, just a day President Muhammadu Buhari through his media aide, promised to visit the state.
It will be recalled that the New Year day attack on two local government areas of the state left over 73 persons dead and attacks and killings have become a recurring development in the state since then.
Last Monday’s night attackers also left several persons injured and many others missing, while the entire community has been deserted. Several houses, huts and food barns were set ablaze by the marauding herdsmen.
A source in the community disclosed that the well armed herdsmen stormed the village about 4p.m., shooting sporadically at anything they sighted and burning down houses in the community. His words: “It was a bloody evening in Okpokwu. Armed herdsmen stormed Omusu village and opened sporadic fire on the locals, killing and butchering anyone and anything they came across.”
Among the first callers to the deserted community was Governor Samuel Ortom, who led members of the state security council for an on-the-spot assessment of the area.
Addressing the people present at the Omusu village square, Governor Ortom who fought back tears as he spoke, said killer herdsmen have continued to rain terror on the people of the state despite efforts by his government to stem the tide.
“Heads of security agencies said people doing this are from other countries. These killings are not acceptable. We will not fold our arms and wait for people to come from other countries and invade our land, kill, maim, rape our women and children and go free. This cannot be allowed to continue.
“That is why we have decided at the state security council level to come here for on-the-spot assessment. Already, as recorded by the local government chairman, 24 people were killed just in one day. This is not right and it is unacceptable.”
Ortom visits,fights tears
Samuel Ortom of Benue state visited Saint Mary Hospital and General Hospital Okpoga to commiserate with victims and survivors of Monday evening attack at Omusu village, Ojigo ward Edumoga in Okpokwu local government area of Benue state by herdsmen that claimed 26 lives.
“I know that the security men are doing their best, but they are overstretched; from the Police, Civil Defence and the Army. The fact is that they are not also spared. Even the security agencies have become victims of these mercenaries. I think that something has to be done and very fast too.
“As leaders, we are here to assess the situation and as we go back, we will re-strategize and ensure that this does not occur again.
“But let me repeat this, for us in Benue State, we have a law prohibiting open grazing. Anyone who wants to live with us here must obey the law. The law is not targeted at any herdsman or woman or any ethnic group.
“The law is meant to protect the lives of the people of the state and herdsmen alike. No one is discriminated against and everyone must obey the law because it is what is obtainable everywhere. I am aware that when Sharia law was introduced in Zamfara State and several other states in the country, nobody rose up to challenge that law. Why are these people challenging us?Continue reading.