Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Gunmen on Tuesday night reportedly attacked Agboughul community near Makurdi Modern Market in Makurdi Local Government Area of Benue State, killing three people and injuring others.
The deceased victims included a lawyer, Barr Moses Udam, his wife, Nkechi, as well as a blind old man identified as Nyikyor Mazugu.
Two of the blind man’s children as well as a sister of the deceased lawyer were also said to have been shot and are recieving treatment at the hospital, even as the gunmen also reportedly visited another compound and made away with the sum of N200,000.
Although initial reports suggested that the assailants might have been hired assassins, some members of the community allege that the gunmen are herdsmen.
The Benue State Police Command, in a short statement by its spokeswoman DSP Catherine Anene, identified the attackers simply as ‘gunmen’.
‘Gunmen attacked Agboghul village Makurdi, claimed the lives of two persons. One person receiving treatment at BSUTH. Policemen deployed to forestall further breach of peace,’ the police statement read.
It was gathered that the gunmen numbering about eight stormed the community at about 11 pm while the people were sleeping and wasted no time in gaining access into the lawyer’s residence, the last house before a dry stream.
Udam was said to have been shot and then butchered in his room while his wife, Nkechi, was killed in the bathroom before the assailants moved to the next thatched compound across the stream where Mazugu and his family were staying, killing him and shooting two of his sons.
The lawyer’s property, including his study, his bedroom and living room were overturned, while his car and another car were also vandalised.
One of the blind man’s sons who managed to escape was said to have raised the alarm, which attracted neighbours who in turn called security agents, who immediately rushed to the area but did not encounter the gunmen.
Security forces, including personnel of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), the police, the Agro Rangers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and members of the Benue Livestock Guards were said to have trailed the assailants Tuesday night as well as provided security for the people.
Governor Samuel Ortom, who was one of the first callers at the scene of the attack Wednesday morning, lamented the manner in which the people were murdered, vowing that his administration will never surrender to criminal elements no matter the intimidation.
The Governor recalled that only a few days ago some persons were also killed in a gruesome manner in Tse Angband Community of Makurdi.
He called on the youths to rise up and defend their communities by cooperating with security forces to put an end to the reign of terror by suspected jihadists, most of whom, he noted, are not Nigerians.
‘There is no way we can compromise having law against open grazing, and the law is not targeted at any ethnic group. We have always sought after the law and I think that these terrorists and jihadists, most of whom are not Nigerians but have come into the country to cause pain, will not be allowed,’ the Governor stated.
‘Benue State under my watch will not succumb to Fulani jihadist no matter the intimidation. Let them know that the day of reckoning is very near. We are not going to be provoked.
‘This is high time for the youths to rise up and stop this impunity. Those who are laughing at us should know that their days are coming. To the youths, it is time for them to rise and defend their community.’
The Governor noted that the series of attacks were a grand plan to whittle down operations of Livestock Guards and Agro Rangers who are doing well in containing attacks on communities and enforcing the ranching law of the state.
The Governor lamented that developed countries with a higher number of cattle compared to Nigeria have no cases of conflicts between their herders and farmers due to ranching, which is also being practiced in Benue, stressing that he would continue to speak out against impunity in the country.