901 Killed in Middle Belt Since January

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President Muhammadu Buhari

As Nigerians continued to decry and churches accross the country protested the rising wave of killings due to mostly farmers and herders’ clashes in several states, especially the Middle Belt region, a chronology of the deaths compiled by THISDAY has shown that a total of 901 persons have been reportedly murdered in the Middle Belt alone in the first four months of 2018.

The number includes 19 persons reportedly killed in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State and in Gwer West Local Government Area in Benue State at the weekend, another 50 persons who were murdered in Offa, Kwara State, after armed robbers attacked and robbed five banks early this month, as well as those killed in pockets of ethno-religious clashes in the region.

It, however, excluded those who died from Boko Haram attacks in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, illnesses, childbirth, cholera and Lassa fever, among others.

The states covered by the compilation comprised Benue, Taraba, Kaduna (mostly Southern Kaduna), Kwara, Plateau, Nassarawa, Niger, Kogi and Adamawa.

According to the chronology on persons reportedly cut down violently in the region in the first four months of 2018, April recorded the highest number of deaths as 412 persons were killed this month alone.

It was followed by January, during which at least 272 persons were killed, March recorded 162 deaths while 62 persons were reportedly killed in February.

In all, Benue State recorded the highest number of reported deaths as 308 persons were killed in the state in the first four months of 2018.

The state has also recorded an increase in the destruction of property and farmlands in the period under review, as well as thousands of displaced persons who have been chased away from their homesteads.

Also, the compilation showed that 192 persons were killed in Taraba State in the first four months of the year, while in Kaduna, 75 deaths have been recorded.

In the same vein, 84 persons were killed in Plateau State due to attacks blamed on suspected herdsmen in the first four months of the year, while 127 persons were reportedly killed in Nassarawa.

In Adamawa State, the number of persons that were reported to have died due to clashes between farmers and herders was put at 56, while 43 were killed in Kogi.

Nigerians have continued to condemn the spate of killings in the region. Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, whose state has accounted for the highest number of deaths, has insisted that the perpetrators of the gruesome murders must be apprehended, saying that such barbaric acts were unacceptable in the 21st century.

He has continued to reiterate his call for the arrest of the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore whom he has accused of sponsoring the Fulani herdsmen militia and was still moving freely in Abuja while giving directives to the mercenaries.

Also, the Senate last week summoned President Muhammadu Buhari to appear before it to provide a comprehensive briefing on the efforts of his administration to addressing the increasing security challenges in Benue, Taraba and other states in the region.

This came just a day after the House of Representatives issued a similar summon to the president.

The Senate, however, said it would liaise with the House of Representatives to have a joint session with the president.

The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said the briefing by the president would afford the lawmakers the opportunity to know what was really going on with regards to security.

After the briefing, the Senate would then deliberate and take a position on the call for a state of emergency in Benue, and on the status of the service chiefs, Saraki had said.

19 Killed in Kaduna, Benue


Despite the rising death toll since the beginning of the year, yet another 19 persons were reportedly killed at the weekend following the invasion of Janruwa community, Maganda District in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State, and of Gwer West Local Government Area in Benue State.

About 13 others who sustained injuries in Birnin Gwari were rushed to the hospital.

The Janruwa incident was said to have occurred at about 1 p.m. on Saturday when gunmen stormed the community and started shooting indiscriminately in all directions.

The victims were said to be local miners and the villagers. Some of those killed were said to have been burnt beyond recognition by the bandits.

According to an eyewitness, seven corpses were taken to the morgue at the Jibril Maigwari General Hospital, Birnin Gwari, while others were buried in accordance with Islamic rites.

The 13 persons who sustained injuries from gunshots were rushed to a hospital in Kaduna for treatment, said the eyewitness. There was concern that the casualty figure may rise as several people were still missing yesterday. 

A resident of the area who pleaded anonymity said the Birnin Gwari area was under siege by armed bandits.

“We are living in perpetual fear. We cannot go to the market or farms, we are not safe in our homes. We are once again under siege and we need urgent intervention by both the state and federal governments,” he said.

Confirming the incident, the Kaduna State Police Commissioner, Austin Iwar, however, said 10 persons were killed while 13 others were injured.

According to him, six of those injured were taken to the Birnin Gwari General Hospital while others were taken to Kaduna for treatment.

Suspected Fulani herdsmen on Sunday also attacked and killed five residents of Agagbe settlement in Gwer West Local Government Area of Benue State.

A resident of the community Ternenge Aondonna disclosed that the herdsmen invaded the community unprovoked and began to shoot at the people.

He said many residents fled as the sporadic shooting was going on.

He said five bodies were discovered but added that many people were still missing. The police were yet to confirm the latest killings, as phone calls to the police spokesman in Benue State were not answered.

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