Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State on Tuesday decried the continued killings of Tiv indigenes in the state by suspected Fulani herdsmen and has hinted that if urgent steps are not taken by the Federal Government, using the military to redress the anomaly, the people might be forced to resort to self-help.
Suswam spoke in reaction to the destruction of properties and killing of dozens in Guma Local Government Area of the state even as his convoy was attacked by daring herdsmen at Tse Akenyi when he undertook an assessment tour of communities recently invaded by the herdsmen on Daudu‑Gbajimba road.
A visibly shaken Suswam, who escaped death by the whiskers during the attack on his convoy that lasted almost one hour, told people to take their destiny in their hands.
He said: “I salute each and every one of you for your courage and steadfastness throughout this period. This is beyond the herdsmen; this is real war.
“On my way to this place, they exchanged gun shots with us for over one hour before we were able to come here.
“My people are being killed, butchered and their homes destroyed. So, if the security agents, especially the military, cannot provide security for us, we will defend ourselves.
“I cannot abandon you people at this point in time to die. You voted me to provide security for you and I must do that for you.
“These Fulani are not like the real Fulani we used to know.
“Please return to your homes and defend your land, do not allow anybody to make you slaves in your home land”, he said.
Local Government Chairman, Mr. Frank Adi condemned the continuous killings of his people and destruction of their homes by the herdsmen.
Represented by his deputy, Mr Godwin Viashima, Adi pleaded with government to provide them with security operatives to safe guard the citizens.
Suswam assured the people that government would do everything possible to restore normalcy to various homes. He stressed that the government would not allow invaders to take over their ancestral homes.
At Ukpam village, virtually all the houses were razed while decomposed bodies littered the farming community. The governor ordered the immediate evacuation of six bodies to Makurdi, the state capital, for burial.
The governor went round other affected communities with the most affected ones as Ukpam, Waku, Torkula, and Kaseyo.
Governor Suswam was accompanied on the assessment tour by journalists, Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Terhile Ayua, the Benue State Commissioner of Police, Adams Audu and security personnel.