Following unabated killings by suspected herders in Benue State, which have left no fewer than 400 dead in three weeks, President Muhammadu Buhari has asked security agencies to apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to book.
He also condemned the use of terrorism as a tool in inter-communal conflicts.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, noted that the President said all efforts be made to end the “extreme violence.’’
Meanwhile, findings by Sunday Vanguard revealed that apart from last week’s incidents, which left over 100 dead, nearly 300 had been killed in the last three weeks.
The state has witnessed unprecedented attacks on several communities by suspected armed herdsmen, which also left several many injured.
The worst hit in the recent attacks is communities in the Benue South District, the home of the Idoma-speaking people.
Apa, Agatu and Otukpo axis of the area accounts for the majority of the casualties.
Several sources in the communities said Apa Local Government Area,LGA, alone recorded over 250 deaths while no fewer than 75 persons lost their lives in Otukpo LGA within this period.
Agatu LGA, which used to be the epicentre of herders’ incursions in Benue South, recorded minimal attacks with about 30 casualties.
Other places affected include Ikpobi, Odugbo, Ugbobi Akpanta, Ologba, Oyiji and Imana in Apa LGA. Oshigbudu Atakpa and Okpagabi in Agatu were also not spared.
The Christians Pentecostal Church, located at Akenawe, Tswarev in Ukemberagya/Tswarev Council Ward of Logo Local Government Area, LGA, was also attacked by the marauders, who killed a worshipper while the pastor of the church and others were abducted.
That attack was followed by the murder of the traditional ruler of Ugbobi community in Apa LGA. He was killed alongside several persons.
There was also the invasion of Umogidi village in Enetekpa Adoka District of Otukpo LGA where three persons were initially murdered by the marauders. Shortly after their burial, the invaders staged a comeback to the village, killing 51 persons.
Just when the people were yet to come to terms with the Umogidi massacre, the attackers stormed LGEA Primary School, Mgban, in Nyiev Council Ward of Guma LGA, where the traditional ruler of the community who lost two children in the attack confirmed the death of 39 persons while 38 others including children and women were left with severe injuries.
Concerned by the bloodletting, Buhari directed the secret services, police and military commanders to enhance surveillance on every front and to immediately review the security management in the affected areas.
“The President condemned the use of terrorism as a tool in inter-communal conflicts, urging that the attackers be found and dealt with swiftly under the law.
“He conveyed his grief and sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives due to the attack and directed the secret services, police and military commanders to enhance surveillance on every front and to immediately review the security management in the affected areas.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those murdered. The entire nation stands united in the fight against the forces of terror and evil,” said the President,’’ Shehu quoted the President to have said.