Thousands of residents stricken by emotion in Benue State remained mournful on Thursday as bodies of the victims of the Fulani herdsmen attack of January 1 and 2 on some parts of the state were given mass burial.
Prior to the mass burial that was organised by the State Government, thousands of people had trooped out as early as 6 a.m. to the IBB Square to participate in the highly emotional requiem mass.
The bodies were driven round Makurdi metropolis in a motorcade in five trailers and six ambulances to the square for a funeral mass which started about noon and ended at 3:30p.m., while interment took place about 4:15p.m.
Social and economic activities were also grounded as the 73 people killed by the herdsmen in Guma and Logo local government areas were buried amidst tears and wailings by relatives and sympathisers.
It was gathered that government offices, commercial banks, markets and schools were closed in Makurdi, the state capital, in observance of the workfree day earlier declared by the state government in honour of the victims.
Some of the residents also expressed worries over the incessant attacks on farmers in the state and said that the acts were unhealthy for an agrarian state like Benue.
The state governor Samuel Ortom, who had declared three days of mourning for the victims, also lamented that the state was looking forward to a better year of hope after the herdsmen invaded and murdered in cold blood pregnant women, children and the elderly.
He said the state lost 73 persons to the attack, with many others sustaining various degree of injuries.
“For several years these attackers have turned our beautiful and endowed land into their killing fields and the main reason has been the clashes between herdsmen and farmers, but these attacks have intensified with alarming devastation since 2011,” he said.
He disclosed that since the attacks started in 2011, 13 out of the 23 local government areas in the state had borne the onslaught of the cattle herders, adding that several lives had been lost over the years. Ishaku, Lalong Disagree
Two Governors Disagree:
During the event of the mass burial, the governors of two neighbouring states – Darius Ishaku (Taraba) and Simon Lalong (Plateau) – held divergent views on the propriety of the Anti-Open Grazing Law enacted in Benue and Taraba States.
While the Plateau governor is feeling vindicated by the gruesome killings in State by herdsmen, saying that he had forewarned Ortom against enacting the law, the Taraba governor is of the opinion that the state’s anti-open grazing law was not targeted at any ethnic group or religious group.
Lawmaker Tackles Adesina:
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Air Force, Hon. Samson Okwu (PDP, Benue), has asked the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, to apologise to Nigerians for saying more people were killed during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
Okwu, representing Oju/Obi federal constituency of the state, who spoke in Abuja, said the unending killings were as a result of failure of the Buhari administration.
He said: “During Jonathan’s administration these killings were not spread in the country as witnessed now. The insecurity was only in some parts of the North- East and North-Central but now there’s Enugu massacre, Edo massacre, Rivers massacre and then Benue. “I think Mr. Femi Adesina should apologise to the people of Benue and Nigerians instead of blaming their failure on President Goodluck Jonathan.”