Twenty four persons, mostly women and children, were, on Monday, killed in a fresh crisis at Omusu Edimoga in Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State.
The council chairman, Olofu Ogwuche, stated this while conducting state governor, Samuel Ortom, round the affected community on Tuesday.
The governor and members of state security council had visited Omusu Edimoga for an on-the-spot assessment.
Ogwuche said the herdsmen had reported to the council the loss of their cows some kilometers from the affected village.
Ogwuche said he was already mediating in the crisis when report got to him that the herdsmen had invaded the village and killed some people.
The herdsmen were said to have invaded the community between 2pm and 3pm on Monday, allegedly killing some children who were returning from school.
In a particular building of two rooms, eight persons were said to have been murdered during the attack.
The body of an 11-year-old girl in her school uniform was discovered by the police when the governor visited the area.
Ogwuche said, “It was on Monday that Police came to inform me that herdsmen reported that people of Omusu Edimoga village had rustled their cows.
“When I heard this, I started mediating over the issue, during which I received information that herdsmen had invaded the community.
“Immediately I got the report, I rushed down, and with the help of the Police, we were able to recover 17 corpses and took them to the mortuary at the General Hospital in Okpoga.
“This morning (Tuesday), when we came here, we recovered the body of six persons and they have also been taken to the mortuary.
“But as we were moving around, the corpse of an 11-year-old girl was also recovered.
“So, in all, 24 persons had died, and some are still missing.”
At St. Mary’s Catholic Hospital, Okpoga, it was a pathetic sight. A five-year-old boy, identified as Loko, was shot on the buttocks; while he was also said to have lost his mother in the attack. He cried uncontrollably.
Governor Ortom condemned the attack, and accused Fulani of “always taking the law into their own hands.”
‘They reported the case of rustling, but instead of waiting for the outcome of Police investigation, they came and killed 24 people in a day. It is senseless.
“People in Omusu Edimoga community do not understand cow language; so, no one here rustles their cow, it is the same Fulani men that are rustling their fellows’ cows.
“We can not continue with these senseless killings; that is why we came out with the law which is aimed to protect everyone.
“When Sharia law was introduced in Zamfara State, no one violated the law. Let security men do their job and arrest the people. ”
The governor, however, called on the people not to take law into their hands.
Earlier, Benue State Command spokesman, ASP Moses Yamu, had claimed that 16 persons were killed.
He said the herdsmen were on a reprisal attack allegedly to protest the “maiming and theft” of their cows by the people of Omusu.
The herdsmen were also said to have claimed that two herdsmen had gone missing and that one of them was found dead.