Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has openly lamented the incessant attacks and killings in ‘soft targeted’ communities of the State by suspected Fulani Herdsmen.
This is just as the governor stated that the State was under siege, following Friday’s attack on Tarfi village, Binnev Ward in Buruku Local Government area of the state by marauders, that left about 60 persons dead.
Governor Ortom also said, “after committing the atrocities, they sacked the locals from their abode after which they occupied the ‘captured territory’.”
His words: “It is a bad situation, everyday you hear how my people are being killed, raped and maimed by these mercenaries. They do not have respect for the rule of law or security personnel. The situation has gotten to a point where if we contain the crisis in one community, they move quickly to another to massacre the people just like the Buruku case where over 60 innocent persons have been killed.
“These are wicked mercenaries under the guise of herdsmen attacking us and taking over our farmland. I have said it several times that we do not have land for grazing in the state, let them move out of the state if they cannot respect the rule of law and the sanctity of human lives.
“There is a limit to which I can appeal to my people to restrain themselves from reprisal attacks, if all of them are killed then I might be the next target. I will have to represent the matter to the President because we are helpless and if nothing urgent is done we might have a major crisis in our hands.”
Speaking on the allegations that the crisis was sparked by rustlers in the affected communities, Ortom said, “those behind cow rustling are the herdsmen themselves because they are the only ones that speak the language that cows understand. For instance, even at my village in Gums they claimed that my people rustled their cows and they went ahead to kill 50 of my people and took over the land. This is genocide. Enough of these killings.”
In a related development, the Delta State High Court in Asaba has sentenced two herdsmen – Hassan Abidu and Yakubu Salem – to 20 years in jail with hard labour.
The Guardian reports that the suspects were members of a group of armed nomads terrorising indigenes of Ibusa and its environs in Oshimili North Local Council of the state.
At the trial on Monday, the presiding judge (name withheld) found the two nomads guilty on a two-count charge of unlawful possession of firearms preferred against them by the state Attorney-General, punishable under Section 3 (1) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provision) Act Cap R.II, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2010.
The duo were each sentenced to 10 years imprisonment without an option of fine.