Suspected Herdsmen Slaughter 16 People in Benue
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
No fewer than 16 persons have been murdered by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen in three communities in the Gwer West Local Government Area of Benue State.
The fresh attack reportedly happened in the early hours of Saturday, causing many inhabitants of the affected communities to flee to safety.
It was reported that the attackers, who were allegedly dressed in military uniforms, shot sporadically at the villagers, wreaking havoc on the people.
Chairman of Gwer West Local Government, Mr Francis Ayagan, who confirmed the attack, stated that, “Sixteen people were killed by militia herders in Tse Tuma, Chiachia and Tse Targu communities and neighbouring villages, all in Gwer West.”
On his part, sub-sector Commander of the Operation Whirl Stroke in charge of Gwer West, Flying Officer Mohammed Abubakar, said it was a reprisal for cows that were allegedly rustled on Friday by people he claimed were livestock guards in military uniform.
The sub-sector commander said seven corpses had so far been recovered from the affected communities.
Abubakar said the chairman of Gwer West Local Government Area of the state had given the names of seven members of livestock guards, who he alleged were the perpetrators of the violence to the OPWS.
“At about 4.30 pm on Saturday, information got to me that some people in military uniform were sighted at the Agape Forest and I mobilised my men to the forest.
“My men embarked on a search and discovered that those behind the rustling of cows are members of the livestock guards.
“We later traced them to Ter Nagi’s Palace and discovered 22 cattle there but he (the monarch) claimed that they belonged to him.
“Thereafter, we contacted the DPO, who equally identified the rustlers as members of the Livestock Guards who disguised as military men to rustle cattle and butchered them for sale at the Naka Market.
“As I speak with you, they are selling the meat at the market. The DPO also gave the names of seven persons who are members of the Livestock Guards involved in the incident.
“Just this afternoon, our men went on a mop up patrol and discovered four additional dead bodies at the scene of the incident.”
However, monarch of Naka, headquarters of Gwer West Local Government Area, Ter Nagi Chief Daniel Abomtse, denied the claim that cows were found in his palace.
He alleged that four out of seven districts in his domain had been taken over by herdsmen, appealing to federal government to set up a military post at Agagbe to avert further attacks.