Gunmen in army uniforms yesterday went berserk, killing 26 people, following an attack on Jandeikyura, a border settlement between Taraba and Benue states. The incident occurred in the wee hours of Friday, April 13, 2018, in Tiv dominated villages, bringing the total number of people murdered in the area to 67.
The Benue border community had earlier been attacked on Thursday where 41 people were killed. The villages attacked were Akaanya, Kpete and Tse- Orliam.
The ‘soldiers’, whom Saturday Telegraph gathered were from Taraba, made incursion into the area, allegedly in search of two of their colleagues, reportedly killed by the rampaging Fulani herdsmen. Governor Samuel Ortom had confirmed the killing of an officer of the Nigerian Army by the herders and abandoned in his pool of blood.
The deceased officer, who was among the soldiers deployed in the state for peacekeeping operations, was killed at River Tyulen crossing point in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State. Sources said that the suspected soldiers, who were in large numbers, came in search of their missing colleagues but as they could not find the corpses resorted to indiscriminate shootings during which no fewer than 26 persons were felled.
An indigene of the area, who pleaded anonymity, said: “The said soldiers came from neighbouring Taraba State in a military warfare manner and discovered that some of their people who were killed by Fulani herdsmen were still missing. “
“Instead of concentrating their attack in Taraba where they were supposed to station, they decided to invade Benue villages to launch the attack which led to the killing of 26 people”.
“As I speak with you, there is serious tension in the local government as thousands of people including women, children and old people are fleeing the area in droves and leaving their food items cultivated at the mercy of the invaders”.
Another source who identified himself simply as John Alaghga, alleged that the soldiers also killed a market chief and also set ablaze church buildings at NKST Church Akaanya. Mr. Alaghga hinted that after the attack, the arsonists proceeded to Tse-Orliam and Kpete River where many refuges had run to hide and opened fire on them.
“I have been sojourning in the area for decades now but I can tell you that what I saw those people do was terrible. They were killing people like chickens and the entire area had been deserted,” he said.
Acting governor of the state, Engr. Benson Abounu told journalists that the government had evolved proactive measures to stem the killings.Abounu denied knowledge of the attack and killings of innocent citizens of the state, saying he had not contacted the local government chairman to brief him on the attack and killings.
“What I have experienced from the ‘Cat Race’ had been that measures taken by the security forces had been reactionary. You hear that there was one attack or another here and there and reports were made and security forces move in, stabilize the situation and they get back and then you hear of another one.”
“That’s how it has been going on, and it has been all reactionary.”
“But today we held a security meeting and we decided that the best approach should be proactive; we should forestall rather than repel a situation that had already gone bad. “It is incumbent on the security forces to block all entry points where these attackers come from so that we can be able to forestall any attack that might take place”.
The deputy governor also confirmed the killing of two people at the Agboughul community within Makurdi territory by suspected herdsmen on Thursday morning. He said as a result of the attack, security network in the state had been reviewed and expressed satisfaction with the cooperation given the government by security chiefs which he said would go a long way in bringing the situation under control.