The police gave yesterday a graphic account of how last weekend’s killings in a Benue community were carried out. No fewer than 24 people were killed in Omusu, Okpokwu Local Government Area. They are to be given mass burial tomorrow.
Commissioner of Police Fatai Owoseni said some herdsmen invaded a peace meeting organized by the Okpokwu Local Government Chairman between the community and the Fulani leader following complaints of an attack, killing people indiscriminately.
The police were alerted to a crisis situation in the community when some youths attacked some herdsmen, before what turned out to be a reprisal, Owoseni said
The police chief said the four herdsmen arrested in connection with the killings were assisting in the investigation and would be charged to court.
Following the deployment of more security, normalcy has returned to Omusu community, it was learned.
Owoseni said the police had also arrested 44 persons for violating the anti-open grazing law
He said the suspects were undergoing trial.
The commissioner of police who reiterated the command’s commitment to ensuring peace in the state promised that nobody would be spared for violating the law.
He said one herdsman was recently arrested in Katsina-Ala when some herdsmen led their cattle into a block making factory during which an altercation ensued.
Owoseni said 10 out of 14 persons who rustled herdsmen’s cattle in Guma Local Government Area were arrested while sharing the meat.
“The police are also involved in confidence-building patrols in Chille, Mbalagh, Makurdi Local Government Area where over 5,000 people were displaced by herdsmen.
“As a preventive measure, we are engaging chairmen of the affected areas, relevant state government agencies, and the herdsmen to find a lasting solution to the crisis. We want to urge the residents to alert security operatives of any strange movement and activities.”
The police chief said 12 suspects were arrested for armed robbery and cultism. Weapons, including one locally fabricated pistol, one English pistol, one AK47 rifle, two AK47 Magazines, 29 rounds of live ammunition, two live cartridges, two motorbikes and one motorcycle with gadgets were recovered from them.
Former Senate President, David Mark bemoaned the renewed killings and expressed regrets that the attacks were carried out despite peace initiatives.
In a statement, by his media aide Paul Mumeh, the senator described the development as sad and frustrating, saying that the killings had continued in spite of repeated peace moves between the indigenes and the Fulani herdsmen in the area.
“Twenty-six persons, mainly innocent women, and children were gruesomely murdered in cold blood by assailants believed to be Fulani herdsmen."
Condemning the attacks, Mark said the crisis is degenerating to something akin to “war without end”, defying all peaceful approaches.
“I am aware of various peace initiatives over the incessant clashes resulting to loss of lives and property. That the killings continue unabated is something beyond the ordinary.
Former Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole yesterday gave an insight into how the herders/farmers problem could be curtailed.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sideline of the 26th Convocation Lecture of the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) in Ikorodu, Oshiomhole said a crime committed should be treated as a crime.
“In every part of Nigeria and most communities, you will always have an area domiciled by the herdsmen and they move about their lawful business, here and there."
“In my house, I have a herdsman who is managing my cattle and I’m sure there are a lot of other people too who have them."
“But, like every other aspect of Nigeria, a couple of things might have deteriorated, including environmental and security issues among others,” Oshiomhole said.