Rampaging herdsmen have unleashed terror on Ogane-Enugu and Ikende communities in Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State. In the late night attack on the communities on Wednesday, herdsmen slaughtered and hacked about 25 people to death and burnt several houses. This came as Benue State government yesterday buried 24 victims of the herdsmen attacks on March 5 at Omosu and Okana villages at Edumoga in Okpokwu Local Government Area in mass graves. Also, the Senate, yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to use his powers as the country’s commander-in-chief to stop the senseless killings across the country by armed herdsmen.
The herdsmen invaded Kogi communities when everyone had slept. The assailants also invaded Abejukolo community in Omala Local Government Area in the Kogi East Senatorial District. At press time residents were moving out of Obakume, Idirisu and Oji Apata to escape the rampaging herdsmen, while residents in other communities yet to run away live in fear.
It was learnt that the herders first tied their victims before slaughtering them while those who attempted to escape received machete cuts. A source said that villagers were woken up by sporadic gunshots by the herders dressed in Army uniforms. It was learnt that gunmen armed with AK-47 had earlier in the day visited mayhem on the villagers in their farms before returning in the night while they were asleep to accomplish their mission. Several houses were razed, while others were demolished out right.
The state Deputy Commissioner of Police, Monday Bala, who confirmed the incident, said the command was yet to ascertain the actual number of death. Bala said that policemen alongside personnel of the Armed Forces were drafted to deal with the situation. He said security agents were in control of the situation. According to sources, the situation is relatively calm, following deployment of soldiers in the communities to quell the killings.
Meanwhile, the 24 victims of Benue attacks were buried at St. Bernard Primary School field, Ugwu-Okpoga, after a funeral mass amid wailing by family members of those who lost their loved ones during the attacks. The herders invaded the community in broad daylight and opened fire on the unarmed men, women and children killing 24 of them. Several others were injured. Governor Samuel Ortom, in his funeral speech, said there was enough bloodshed in the state owing to atrocities meted on farmers by Fulani herdsmen.
The governor reiterated his call on security agencies to arrest the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, whom he said were the sponsors of the killings in the state based on comments credited to them and published in various national dailies. Condoling with the bereaved families, Ortom said the death of the victims and many others would put an end to the massacre of Benue people.
He added that the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law had come to stay in the state, noting that there was no land for open grazing and crop farming to go on concurrently. Ortom assured Benue people that his administration would continue to respond swiftly to security challenges, adding that data were being gathered for compensation for damage caused by herdsmen attacks. In a sermon, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Benue State chapter, Rev. Akpen Leva, prayed God to grant the governor and the entire Benue people the strength to overcome the menace of herdsmen attacks.
Meanwhile, the Senate has condemned the fresh attacks by herdsmen on the people of Dekina and Omala local government areas of Kogi State. The Red Chamber urged Buhari to direct the police, the military and all the nation’s security forces to as a matter of urgency, move into the affected communities in Kogi and other parts of the country and bring the killings under control. It also called on the Inspector- General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, and all the security agencies to arrest the perpetrators while urging the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to send relief materials to displaced victims in Kogi State. The resolutions were sequel to the adoption of a Point of Order by Senator Atai Aidoko (Kogi-East) during plenary over the killings in the two local government areas on Wednesday. Aidoko told the Senate that 20 people were killed in Ogane-Enugu community in Dekina while 12 others were killed in Agbejukolo, Agbenema communities in Omala Local Government Area.
He said: “Despite continued condemnation of killings in many parts of the country, perpetrators of this dastardly act have not been arrested. I want this Senate to urge President Muhammadu Buhari to direct security agencies to bring the situation under control by arresting the perpetrators and ensuring that they are prosecuted.
This killing is taking another dimension as the killers also amputate people’s hands.” Contributing, the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, said that it was time that the Senate worked closely with the executive to enhance the effectiveness of security agencies in combating crime in the country. Lawan noted that the security agencies in the country were overstretched, expressing concerns that the number of policemen guarding the communities were inadequate. According to him, in a population of about five million, there are only 300 policemen guarding the society and in the same situation over 300 bandits will attack the people. Also contributing, Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West), urged government at all levels to demonstrate the needed capacity to combat insecurity in the country.
He said: “We are still treating the issue of security with kid gloves. If you see the gory pictures of people that are maimed and we cannot show capacity, do we want to continue complaining? It is the poor that is dying. Let us for once call on Mr. President and the governors of these respective states who are the chief security officers to ensure the protection of lives and property of citizens.”
Senator James Manager blamed the continued killings on non-arrest and prosecution of perpetrators. According to him, society has evolved and there is law and order, when somebody who commits a crime is caught and punished to serve as deterrent to others. Senator Adamu Alero called for the implementation of recommendations of the National Security summit recently organised by the Senate. In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, condemned the killings, saying that the act was unacceptable. He promised that the Senate would work towards finding solutions to insecurity in the country.