- We killed because they stole our 800 cows – Miyetti Allah
Fulani herdsmen have reportedly invaded Agwabi village in Binev Council Ward of Buruku Local Government Area of Benue State, killing not less than 12 persons during the weekend.
Reports said the suspected herders in their numbers stormed the village with sophisticated arms from neighbouring Tarka Local Government at about 11pm, shooting sporadically and burning down houses and huts in the community.
But the Benue Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Assistant Superintendent Police, ASP Moses Yamu, who confirmed the attack, said only five persons had been reported killed, even as he assured that the police were on top of the situation.
The Benue police spokesman said, “Yes I can confirm the attack on Tarfi village, Binnev Ward in Buruku Local Government Area of the state by suspected Fulani herdsmen. So far we have recorded five deaths; two persons were killed in the village but three others who sustained injuries in the attack died on their way to the hospital.”
One of the villagers who spoke to newsmen on the condition of anonymity said, “There is no doubt that it is this same group of herdsmen that have been terrorising Tarka and Buruku Local Government Areas in recent times that are responsible for this attack. This time they stormed Tarfi village, Binnev Ward in Buruku late last night at about 11pm in a commando fashion, shooting and killing anything that stood in their way.
“It was a well coordinated attack. They marched through the village burning down houses and huts, farmlands, food barn and any property that belonged to the indigenous people. At the moment, the calls we received from home indicated that about 12 persons were killed while many sustained serious injuries and many others still missing and unaccounted for.
“As I’m speaking with you, the locals, including women, children and the elderly, have all fled their homes, trekking long distances to seek a safe place to hide while the intruders have gone into hiding, though their cows are still grazing in the village.”
Meanwhile, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, in Benue State has admitted that the killing was done in retaliation of their stolen cows.
According to reports by the Nigerian Tribune newspapers, state coordinator of Miyetti, Garus Gololo said that the information gathered from his kinsmen suggested that the cause of the reprisal attack was the fact that the youths from the affected village last Thursday stole 800 cows belonging Fulani herders, and that missing cows were traced to that village the following day (Friday).
Gololo was quoted as saying that “this is highly regrettable because they should have notified the security apparatus already put in place by the state government who could have handled the matter. They didn’t report the matter even to us. It is painful that while the state government is doing everything to resolve the crisis, some others are taking the law into their hands. But those found wanting in this matter would surely be handed over to the security agencies.”
Gololo urged both farmers and the herders to appreciate government’s effort in bringing about peace by reporting offences to the right quarters instead of embarking on violence, stressing that while the trouble was going on in Buruku, he got another report of a Fulani man whose corpse was found mutilated in a village at Guma LGA where Governor Samuel Ortom hails from.