Benue Killings: Victim Losses 4 Wives, 18 Children

A livestock guard, Mr Akpenheen Amile, who sustained gunshot wounds in the January 2nd attack on villages in Guma, Benue State as cried out to the public about the loss of his four wives and 18 children.

He revealed that he had not been able to contact them after the attack.  Amile lamented to the News Agency Of Nigeria (NAN) in Markurdi saying;

“I am in physical pains from gunshot injuries, but such pains don’t hurt me like the inability to ascertain the fate of my four wives and 18 children,” Amile told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Makurdi.

Recall that about five villages in Guma and Logo Local Governments were attacked by unknown gunmen on Jan. 1 and 2.

According to the Benue State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), 73 people have so far been confirmed killed by the invaders.

Amile, who is married to five wives, told NAN that only his fifth wife was with him.

The livestock guard, who is being treated at the Benue State Teaching Hospital (BSUTH), said that he was shot on one of his legs.

“As it is, I don’t know whether they are among the dead or they have fled to some unknown destination for safety,” he said.

Amile, who claimed that the attackers were dressed in herdsmen attire, said that they arrived “around 5 p.m. and started shooting anyone on sight”.

Speaking through an interpreter, Amile said that he was with other Livestock Guards employed by the Benue Government to enforce the anti-open grazing law, when the gunmen descended on them.

“We were at our camp at a primary school at Iwer, in Guma, when the gunmen surrounded us and started shooting.

“It was while I was running for safety that I was shot on the leg. We had to flee because we were not armed. Besides, we were taken by surprise.

“They killed many Livestock Guards and many of us were wounded.

“Since the attack, I have not heard from my four wives and 18 children. Only my fifth wife is here with me. This is causing me sleepless nights; the situation is unbearable,” he said.

 

To Say Buhari Is Not Concerned About Benue Killings Is Unfair – Shehu

The Presidency on Tuesday said it was unfair and unkind for anybody or group to keep insinuating that President Muhammadu Buhari is condoning killings in Benue State and other parts of the country.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, stated this in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja.

Shehu said the President was conscious of his duty to Nigerians, not least because he is held accountable for everything that goes wrong.

He said Buhari was also worried about public pronouncements and finger-pointing which he described as unhelpful to peaceful coexistence in the country.

The presidential spokesman said, “President Muhammadu Buhari has been concerned about these conflicts each time he received those very gruesome pictures of mayhem from several parts of the country, especially as it affected Benue and neighbouring states.

“He is equally worried about some public pronouncements and finger-pointing that are, in most cases very unhelpful to peaceful coexistence of our diverse peoples.

“The President is conscious of his duty to Nigerians, not least because he is held accountable for everything that goes wrong. He deeply sympathises with the families and all the other direct and indirect victims of this violence. He is determined to bring it to a permanent end.

“While there are many Nigerians who see the conflict between the nomadic herdsmen and peasant farmers as an ethnic problem, others point to religious differences and agenda. The President does not subscribe to such simplistic reductionism.

“President Buhari holds the view, as do many experts, that these conflicts are more often than not, as a result of major demographic changes in Nigeria. When Nigeria attained independence, the population of the country was estimated at about 63,000,000.

“Today the population is estimated at close to 200,000,000; while the land size has not changed and will not change. Urban sprawl and development have simply reduced land area both for peasant farming and cattle grazing.

“It is therefore both unfair and unkind, for anyone to keep insinuating that the President is condoning the spate of killings in Benue and other neighbouring states.

“President Buhari has publicly condemned the violence at every turn. He is prepared to permit every possible step that can lead to the stoppage of the killings.”

Benue Killings Has Claimed 80 Lives – NEMA

Eighty people have been killed in Benue State since December 31 following clashes between cattle herders and farmers, said an emergency official Tuesday.

“80 is the number we can say for now, the attacks have not stopped,” Benue State Emergency Management Agency executive secretary Emmanuel Shior told AFP.

AFP

FULL INTERVIEW: What Benue Gov, Ortom Told Journalists After Meeting President Buhari

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom was at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday to meet President Muhammadu Buhari as tension continued to rise in his state over the New Year Day attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen.

The attack left scores of villagers dead in two local government areas of the state.
Mr. Ortom spoke with State House correspondents after the meeting. Excerpts from the
interview.

On his mission to the State House
I had earlier briefed Mr. President when this incident took place on the first of January. After staying back on the ground to do the needful to ensure that we restore normalcy, I said it was important for me to come personally and brief him and that has been done.

Already, because of the communications we have been having when these incidents started, actions have been taken as directed by him (President Buhari). The movement of the DIG, the movement of the IG now to relocate to Benue State to ensure that this challenge is surmounted, was at the instance of Mr. President.

Of course, additional personnel of DSS and Police have been deployed and even the Army. We have additional personnel on ground now. We have adequately and fully given them the logistics support to ensure that our people are protected.

I had to brief him, he is also doing further investigation to know the next line of action. I believe that my request that the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, who has earlier threatened… and I accused them directly, since June last year I have been writing to the leadership of security agencies, that these people are a threat to our collective interest and they must be dealt with. They must be arrested and prosecuted because we cannot allow impunity to continue to thrive. And, of course, threat and no action has resulted in this killing and I think that Mr. President will also do the needful to ensure something is done.

On allegations that he hired mercenaries from Republic of Ghana to fight herdsmen
I am not aware of this and I don’t even know about that one, I am hearing it for the first time. If someone has done that, it must be this Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, that have done it.

On the allegations that he was blocked from seeing the President
I have never accused anyone of blocking me from seeing Mr. President. I’m seeing Mr. President. I told him when this incident occurred, I spoke to Mr. President on phone and followed it up. I know what it entails being a president. Even as governor most times I am not with my phone, people cannot access me the way it used to be, talk less of a president. I didn’t say that and I have not said it. The truth is that I have access to Mr. President anytime I want, I speak to him on phone and I see him personally. I requested to speak to him on phone that day because I couldn’t come to Abuja and he gave me the opportunity and today I’m here and I have seen him.

On suggestion that full blown military operations be set up in Benue like other places
Anything that can stop the killings of my people, I will go for it, I support it. Any policy or any directive, anything that will help stop the killing of these innocent people who are not armed, because this cannot continue. We know that the continuity of this will create greater challenges. I don’t want it to continue. We are struggling with economic issues, we are struggling with political issues and we are struggling with several other issues in this country, security issues and all that, Benue State should not be part of this; there is no need for it.

On allegation that the anti-open grazing law in the state is at the roots of the crisis
The law on prohibition of Open Grazing and Establishment of Ranching was made out of the necessity to ensure that we have peace for herdsmen and farmers and that is what we have done. The law seeks to protect all and as I talk to you, except this Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore who are instigating people to fight and to kill us, there are Fulani men in Benue State as I talk to you doing their business.

On allegation by the Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN Chairman, Benue State chapter, Garos Gololo, that the killings were in retaliation for the theft of 1,000 cows by some people in the state

You know that man is a liar. Gololo is a liar, he is a wanted man in Benue State, we don’t even know where he is. He stays somewhere and makes allegations. The other time, he said 1,000 cattle drowned and the herdsman decided to commit suicide by jumping into the river. He has not come out to justify what he said.

On FG’s idea of setting up colonies to solve the problem
I am waiting to be briefed about what colonies means, I don’t understand it and until I understand it…But like I keep saying, for us, the way forward is ranching and up til this time, I am talking to you, the way forward is ranching because is global best practice. And it is not just practised in other parts of the world, on African soil in Swaziland, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, almost all African countries that rear cattle, they ranch. So why can’t we do the same thing here? For the colony thing I don’t know what colony is.

On how many ranches his administration has created
It is not for me to create ranches. I know that as a farmer, I have one in my farm. And there are several other people who have. The permits are available for people who want to ranch their cattle to access land and begin to ranch. So it is free for everybody and that is the right way to go.

And since we started the implementation (of the anti-open grazing law), there has been relative peace amongst farmers and herdsmen. They were doing well until this militia coming from this Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore came and attacked us. And they are known, we know where they are. As I talk to you, they are in Tongua in Awe local government, that is where these people are camped and coming to attack people.

And it is taking a different dimension. Just yesterday (Monday) in Logo local government, mobile policemen that were deployed to Logo to keep vigil to protect the people and the land, these militia came, exchanged fire with them, caught two of them and slaughtered them like goats. Mobile policemen! They shot another one, macheted him and left him in the pool of his blood, but luckily, he did not die. We have taken him to the hospital, we are treating him. The other one that was declared missing was found today (Tuesday).

So when it gets to the level of militia killing security men who are armed and are trained to protect lives and property, is it not taking a dangerous dimension? Who is now safe?

Buhari Promises Ortom Improved Security In Benue

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said he has assured the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, of his commitment to the security of lives and property in the state and other parts of the country.

Buhari said he gave the assurance during a meeting he had with the governor at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He disclosed this in a message he posted on his verified Twitter handle, @MBuhari, shortly after he met the governor to review the security situation in the state especially as it concerns recent killings.

He said he was committed to ensuring that all those behind the recent attacks in the state were brought to justice.

He also promised that his government would do everything possible to forestall a recurrence.

The President wrote, “I just met with the governor of Benue State. I assured Governor Ortom of our total commitment to the security of lives and property in Benue and elsewhere.

“We have deployed additional security resources to fish out the attackers, bring them to justice, and prevent further attacks.”

Benue Killings: Ortom Meets Buhari, Wants Military To End Conflict

The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, said he would support any move, including military option, that can put an end to the killings being witnessed in the state.

He however said he would not support the Federal Government’s plan to establish cattle colonies until he understood the concept.

Ortom spoke with State House correspondents after a meeting he had with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said although he had briefed the President on the telephone immediately the incident took place, he felt there was the need for him to meet Buhari personally after he had succeeded in restoring normalcy to a level.

When asked for his position on the suggestion that full blown military operation be applied in his state, the governor said, “Anything that can stop the killings of my people, I will go for it. I support it.

“Any policy or any directive, anything that will help stop the killing of these innocent people who are not armed, I will support it because this cannot continue.

“We know that the continuity of this will create greater challenges. I don’t want it to continue. We are struggling with economic issues, we are struggling with political issues and we are struggling with several other issues in this country, security issues and all that, Benue State should not be part of this, there is no need for it.”

Benue Massacre: Court Remands 7 Fulani Herdsmen In Prison

Seven Fulani herdsmen who were arrested in connection with the New Year attack on five communities of Guma and Logo local government areas of Benue State have been remanded in prison by a Makurdi Chief Magistrate Court.

Six of the accused persons were arraigned on charges bordering on criminal conspiracy, mischief by fire, anti open grazing, causing crevices hurt with dangerous weapons and culpable homicide.

The six (6) persons include, Ibrahim Sale, Jubril Adamu, Ibrahim Abubakar, Magaji Yau, Useni Bala, Sabi Yau while Ibrahim Mallam was arraigned for grazing on Governor Samuel Ortom’s rice farm located on Naka road, Makurdi. Two others were said to be at large.

The accused persons are being charged for culpable homicide, criminal conspiracy, mischief by fire, grievous hurt and violation of the prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.

The accused were also arraigned for openly rearing their cows within farmlands at Akor village in Guma Local Government Area thus contravening section 97, 329, 333 and 222 of the penal code law of Benue State and section 19(2)(3) of the open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law of Benue State 2017.

According to First Information Report, FIR six (6) of the Fulani herdsmen were accused of killing over 16 persons and injuring several others as well as destroying houses, crops and burning down many houses that are yet to be valued in monetary terms.

“On 2nd January, 2017 at about 05.00 hours, one Mganda came to police station in Garibaldi, Guma Local government area and reported that on the same day, a group of herdsmen who were rearing their cows in Akor village, attacked the area shooting sporadically and in the process killed over 16 persons,” the FIR stated.

When the case was mention, no plea was taken for want of jurisdiction, the prosecution counsel, ASP Edward Imoh just asked for adjournment to another date for further investigation to be carried out.

Counsel to the defendants, Al Mustapha Elegu did not oppose the application.

The presiding, Chief Magistrate Isaac Ajim who told the accused that the offense committed by them was grievous, ordered that they be remanded at the Federal Medium Prisons and adjourned the case to 5th March, 2018.

Buhari Meets IGP Over Benue, Rivers Killings

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday met with the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, over the security situation across the country particularly the killings recorded in Benue, Rivers and Kaduna states.

At the end of the meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Idris confirmed to State House correspondents that the meeting centered on how to effectively secure the country.

He said the President gave him a directive to tighten up the nation’s security.

“Every time we meet with the President, he gives a charge. He said that we should go and take care and ensure that we tighten our security,” Idris said.

On Benue crisis, the police boss said he would deploy more units to support the efforts policemen are making in the state to ensure adequate protection for the people.

He said senior police officers deployed in the state were putting their heads together to see how they can address the crisis which he described as “community problems.”

Despite the killings in Benue, Rivers and Kaduna States, however, Idris said the country was “well secured.”

“Let’s use the example of Benue, you know most of these states where you have several languages, you know is an issue of communal misunderstanding.

“I think what we should be praying for is for Nigerians to learn to live in peace with one another. I think is very important,” he added.

While assuring Nigerians that there will not be a repeat of the crisis, he also debunked insinuations that the country is under-policed.

When asked if his men were overwhelmed, Idris replied, “We cannot be overwhelmed.”

He added, “Obviously, it (Benue crisis) is a communal crisis. Herdsmen are part of the community. They are Nigerians and are part of the community. Are they not?”

On the arrest of an online publisher, the police boss said, “I don’t need to send anybody but whenever you commit an offence it is our duty to ensure that we respond.”