John Charles and Gbenga Odogun
There were wailings and anguish on Thursday as Benue State buried 26 people killed by Fulani herdsmen at the St. Bernard Primary School, Ugwu-Okpoga.
They were killed when herdsmen attacked the Omusu Edumoga community in Okpokwu area of Benue State recently.
Wailing relations and visitors stormed the venue to pay their last respects to the departed souls
The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, who led members of his cabinet and other government officials to the burial, decried the continuous killings by Fulani herdsmen in the state.
Ortom, who decried the atrocities meted to Benue farmers by Fulani herdsmen, said that merciless killings must stop.
The governor, who offered condolences to the bereaved families, further reiterated his call on the security agencies to arrest the leaders of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore whom he alleged were the sponsors of the killings based on the comments credited to them.
Ortom expressed optimism that the death of the victims and many others would put an end to the massacre of people of the state.
He insisted that the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law recently promulgated by his administration had come to stay, stressing that the state had no land for open grazing.
While assuring the people of the state of his administration’s readiness to continue to respond to security challenges, the governor added that data were being collated to enable the state to compensate victims of herdsmen attacks in the state.
In their remarks at the funeral service, the state Deputy Governor, Benson Abouno; the Deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. James Okefe; and the representative of the Catholic Bishop of Otukpo Diocese, Rev. Fr. John Attah, condemned the killings in the state.
They called on the Federal Government to put an end to the carnage.
They all expressed appreciation to the governor for his support to the bereaved families and pledged their support for the anti-open grazing law.
Earlier, the three socio- cultural groups in the state represented by Mr. Omele Amali and the representative of the Movement Against Fulani Occupation, Pastor Dave Ogbole, had said they had inklings of the attack and reported same to relevant authorities but regretted that nothing was done to avert the massacre.
Ogbole, who expressed disappointment with the Federal Government over its alleged inaction towards the killings in the state, called on the international community to rise up and stop a repeat of the Rwanda genocide in Nigeria.
He said that government should not mistake the resort by Benue people to remain law abiding for cowardice.
In a sermon, the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, , Benue State chapter, Rev. Akpen Leva, prayed God to grant the governor and the entire Benue people the strength to overcome the menace of herdsmen’s attacks.
Meanwhile, suspected Fulani herdsmen have extended their reign of terror to Kogi State as they attacked three communities, leaving 25 persons dead.
Those left with tears and sorrow are two communities in the Dekina Local Government Area namely; Oganienugwu and Ikende; and also Abejukolo village in Omala LGA.
One of our correspondents gathered that the attack started on Tuesday and continued till Thursday before a joint team of policemen and soldiers were deployed in the area.
Eyewitnesses told one of our correspondents that the hoodlums slaughtered their victims after tying them up, while those who attempted to escape received machete attack.
Our sources said that the attackers were dressed in army uniforms and armed with AK-47 rifles.
The state Deputy Commissioner of Police, Monday Bala, who confirmed the incident, said, “The command has yet to ascertain the actual casualty figure.”
John Charles and Gbenga Odogun