From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Two months after the invasion of Agatu by Fulani mercenaries, more than 10 villages are said to still be under the siege of the rampaging Fulani insurgents.
This was made known to the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, yesterday, when he led members of both executive and security councils of the state to Agatu for an assessment visit.
Insurgents hiding under the cloak of Fulani herdsmen had invaded Agatu Local Government Area killing, maiming and destroying every property in sight.
Some of the villages still under the siege of the Fulani, according to the Och’Idoma, Chief Elias Ekoyi Obekpa include Ocholoyan, Akpeko, Olegomakwu, Olegoyinlo, Nahim and Olegotekwu among others. Represented by the Odejok’Apa, Chief John Anteyin, the Och’Idoma explained that the villages still under siege are the ones sharing boundaries with Nasarawa State and Gwer-West Local Government Area in Benue.
The paramount ruler of the Idoma nation who posited that the recent invasion by the Fulani herdsmen had turned into a real insurgency beyond herders / farmers clashes, however, commended the governor for his concern which had resulted in the deployment of military to Agatu.
He stated further that soldiers and other security operatives have been able to push away the Fulani insurgents from parts of Agatu even as villagers were beginning to return in some parts of the affected communities. While noting that members of Okokolo community and environ were now eager to return home but were afraid to do so, for fear of Fulani, the Och’Idoma urged the governor to ensure the deployment of soldiers and other security operatives to the areas under siege as well as communities where villagers were yet to return.
Responding, Governor Ortom, who likened the destruction in Agatu to the insurgency in the North Eastern part of the country assured that he would go back and work on mobilising security operatives to the affected communities to enable the people return home to their farm business.
Although he described the havoc caused in Agatu by the Fulani herders as massive, however, he noted that the agrarian land of Benue cannot be used for grazing by the Fulani since the Benue people were known to be farmers.