aguta killingThousands of displaced persons who fled their ancestral homes at the wake of the recent invasion of communities in Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State by suspected Fulani herdsmen have called on the state and federal governments to urgently come to their aid.
It would be recalled that suspected Fulani herdsmen last Tuesday invaded Akwu, Adagbo and Ayila areas of the council, leaving scores dead, burnt houses, including churches, destroying farm produce and killing domestic animals.
Speaking to Nigerian Pilot at the weekend at the Och’Idoma Square in Otukpo which is one of the camps where thousands of the displaced persons are taking refuge, Elder Sani Echioda, an indigene of Ayila, said their condition is very critical as they find it difficult to feed and lack beddings to sleep at night.
“We sleep on the bare floor since we don’t have mattresses or mats. It is a difficult situation as we are exposed to mosquitoes and all kinds of insects at night,” Echioda said.
The absence of medical officers at the crowded camp was also a disturbing factor, even as the area is unkempt and inhabitable.
Echioda, however, expressed gratitude to Alhaji Usman Abubakar, alias Young Alhaji, Chief Peter Eikwodani and other well meaning Idoma personalities who have responded in cash or in kind to their plight.
The elderly farmer, who recounted the nightmarish episode of last Tuesday, said scores were killed by the herders, lamenting that “till today, the Fulani herders are still in our community causing mayhem. As I am talking to you, the herdsmen and their cows have taken over our land.”
He wondered the kind of sin Agatu people have committed that could warrant government ignoing their plight while helicopters fly in from Nasarawa to reinforce the herders with arms and foodstuff to kill his people.
“We have been forced to suspect that it is the government of Nasarawa State that is fighting us, the peace Al-Makura claims to be making is a fluke. He is believed to be behind two helicopters which flew in to Abogbe and Okokolo to provide ammunition to the Fulanis,” Echioda stated.
Elder Echioda also lamented the truncation of educational activities in Agatu land as a result of the incessant invasion by herders. This, he said, has spanned four years.
The situation at Ugbokolo, Ikobi and Ojantele camps are said to be even worse.
Very Rev Fr John Attah of Justice, Development and Peace in Otukpo Catholic Diocese, who also spoke to this reporter in Otukpo at the weekend, attributed the problem to lack of coordination and poor camp management among humanitarian workers.
Although he said officials of the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, who came on an on- the-spot assessment, provided some mattresses, mats, guinea corn and maize, but the situation still requires further attention, even as he said that the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, was likely to come in with more relief materials.
He advised Agatu people to look inwards and mend fences with themselves as it was possible that internal issues may have leveraged on the incessant crisis in the area.
Attah challenged political leaders from the area and the entire Idoma land to rise to the occasion and be on the vanguard to rescue Agatu people from their captors.
The cleric, who put the figure of the displaced persons at 7,000, said “I shed tears when I saw old women running from their ancestral homes while seeking refuge. It is pathetic.”
Majority of the people in the camps are women, children, elderly men, while pregnant women were few.


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