A group, under the aegis of MINDA Strategic Contact Group (MSCG), has expressed worry over the sudden influx of Fulani herdsmen and their cattle to Benue State in the lead-up to the new year.
The group recalled the gruesome murder of 73 Benue indigenes by herdsmen exactly one year ago and several other killings including that of two Catholic priests and 17 parishioners in Mbalom.
Prof. Joe Tor Iorlapuu, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial aspirant in the state, spoke on behalf of the group at a world press conference in Makurdi yesterday.
He described the influx as a plot to breach the peace and instigate the postponement of the general elections in the state through the declaration of a state of emergency.
He said: “As we approach the eve of 2019, Benue is in a state of fear and soberness. The event of January 1, 2018 and several other ugly events that followed thereafter have remained unforgettable in the minds of our people, our government and the entire world. This press conference is necessitated by the philosophy that ‘to remember is to resist’.
“As we approach the eve of 2019, instances of similar patterns of killings have reportedly occurred in Guma, Makurdi, Logo and Ukum Local Government Areas of Benue State.
“Only one week ago, law enforcement officers were reported to have arrested one herdsman with 105 herds of cattle openly grazing in the heart of Makurdi, the Benue State capital, in flagrant violation of the Anti-Open Grazing Law of the State, 2017.”
In a related development, suspected Fulani herdsmen killed four persons and wounded two others at Nding village, Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State.
The victims were attacked at about 6.30 p.m. as they returned from a Christmas celebration at the Jos Wild Life Park.
“Fulani herders are the prime suspects and their native cohorts. They have been terrorising the peace-loving inhabitants of Fan District and its environs,” an eyewitness told The Guardian.
Police Public Relations Officer Mathias Terna Tyopev confirmed the incident. “On 30/12/2018 at about 1815hrs, the Plateau State Police Command, Jos, received a distress call from Samson Bitrus of Gwom Nding village that on the same date, at about 1800hrs, some unknown gunmen attacked a Peugeot 504 Station Wagon on the way to Nding Village.
“The Commissioner of Police, Plateau State Command, CP Austin Agbonlahor, having received the information immediately assembled a team that raced to the scene of crime but discovered on arrival that the attackers had left.
“At the scene, three persons were seen motionless. They were immediately taken to the Barkin Ladi General Hospital where they were confirmed dead by the doctor on duty. Three injured persons were also taken to the hospital.”
He disclosed that one of the victims succumbed to his injuries while receiving treatment.
He added: “Citizens are advised to go about their lawful businesses and volunteer information that could lead to the timely arrest of the perpetrators of this dastardly act to face the full weight of the law.”