Exclusive: ‘Benue state must strategize to avoid another Fulani Herdsmen massacre’

Few months back, the middle belt region was struggling to contain invasion of unknown gunmen suspected to be Fulani Herdsmen, and later Boko Haram insurgents because of their moduls operandi.

When the attacks resumed, majority assumed it was another episode of the recurring crisis between the tiv farmers and herdsmen, which subsides after a while, with few causalities. However, as the raids became rampant and deadly, it soon dawn that this was no precedent predicament.

Villagers ran helter-skelter as the Gunmen invaded the regions at odd hours; burning huts and shooting sporadically at any living thing.

Fully armed with sophisticated weapons, the daredevils were able to repel the local vigilante group who were at first, determined to fight for their land, but lack of fire-power to fight meant they backed out, while the brave ones died with dignity.

As the suspected Boko Haram insurgents continued to access and “caliphate” strategic villages and towns, the villagers also deserted their ancestral lands to avoid death.

Makurdi, the capital, soon witnessed influx of terrified visitors who sort refuge on the sidewalk or uncompleted buildings. Since the public schools were on strike due to the Government refusing to pay outstanding bills to the teachers, it was blessing in disguise for the refugees as they camped in classrooms and surroundings.

As the invasion continued freely without security operatives present, the dressed as nomads insurgents soon improvised a new method to cause massive destructions. While the forensic team were called in to condone a village recently attacked, they were stunned to find out that there were no traces of bullet wounds or injuries from the bodies recovered. They observed the victims laid in an awkward manner and foaming uncontrollably. Further analysis later feared the use of chemical weapons.

The governor of Benue state, Suswam, escaped death by the whiskers while on visit to one of the affected villages. A journalist, who followed the Governor’s convoy, told Information Nigeria exclusively that the Gunmen hid in the bushes, and on sighting the vehicles opened fire.

Gbajimba, a village some miles to the town lost over 80 people in a night raid by the Herdsmen. Its closure to Makurdi town prompted a battalion of Soldiers drafted to the region.

While the fighting was ongoing, peace talks between the Government and a body, believed to be the head of Fulani Cattle rearers.

Fortunately, it yielded positives as an agreement was tabled between the two parties.

Even after the peace agreement letter was signed, some villagers are refusing to return to their ancestral home with fear of a future attack by the yet-to-be truly identified gunmen.

With the crises subsided, the Benue State government should take necessary steps to avoid a reputation of unnecessary gruesome murders by drafting security operatives to these locations.

Instances of remote villages not easily accessed by security personnel’s, air surveillances should be conducted.

Gunmen recently attacked a village in Kaduna resulting to the death of over 30 innocent villagers, it illustrates that the crises is far from over.