No fewer than 50 persons have been confirmed killed by herdsmen in Kogi and Plateau states in the last 48 hours. A witness said the bomber emerged from a bus that pulled up in front of the home of Sabo Garbu who is running for a seat in the House of Representatives.
While the Nigerian Army confirmed 25 killed in Plateau in fresh attacks on Rafiki village, 25 were also reported killed in five communities in Kogi State.The sustained and coordinated attacks in Kogi State occurred in Oganenugu, Iyale, Ojiapata in Dekina LGA and Obakume and Abejukolo in Omala LGA of the state; all in Igala land of Kogi East Senatorial District.
The attack, which started on Tuesday evening and still ongoing, also saw a family of seven wiped out at Oganenugu, while five other communities in Omala Local Government Area were also reported to have been burnt down completely. It was however gathered that the herdsmen first invaded Oganenugu, wiping out the family of seven on Tuesday evening. While the villagers were still mourning, the headsmen, around 2 a.m. Wednesday, launched another round of attacks on the village, killing another 10 persons; with the death toll now placed at 17.
One person, Joshua Adejoh, was killed in Abejukolo, while the other three communities had, at least, two dead bodies each. One of the villagers in Oganenugu, who was lucky to have escaped, said the herdsmen attacked the community in the early hours of Wednesday. He said: “When the herdsmen invaded our community, we ran out of the community and saw some men in military uniform at a distance. Our hope of finding shelter with the ‘military men’ was dashed when they turned out to be herdsmen who slaughtered some of our villagers.
it was also gathered that “The herdsmen came in boats with firearms, moving through two communities in the Oganenugu ward on Tuesday evening shooting, killing, and razing homes. according to an eye witness report many of the villagers, who were wounded, were left in the bush.
Notwithstanding soldiers have been drafted to the affected communities to restore peace. However, another villager, Bala Julius, who fled from Iyale town, confirmed military presence in the community. “Those on ground in many communities are members of local vigilance groups repelling the herdsmen wielding their AK-47 rifles. Many are missing after fleeing into bushes, so a clear figure of those dead or wounded is not immediately known,” he said
Another source also said: “Herdsmen have invaded Oganenugu. They are in their hundreds and our people are almost being overwhelmed. At the same time, there is palpable tension in Omala.” Confirming the attacks, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Admin), Kogi State Command, DCP Monday Kuryas, said his men had been drafted to the affected communities. He, however, refused to confirm the casualty figures, promising to get back after normalcy would have been restored.
Meanwhile, there were fears that a new set of herdsmen had crossed into Omala Local Government Area through the River Benue from Nasarawa State. They were said to be camped in the Obakume forest, preparing for attacks on Abejukolo, the local government headquarters and adjoining villages.
National President of the Ife (Omala) Development Association, Dr James Odaudu, who stated this yesterday, appealed to both the federal and state governments to take urgent steps to forestall the planned attacks.
In a related development, the Uk’Omu Igala (The socio-cultural umbrella body of Igala people) has convened an emergency meeting to discuss the unfortunate incident. President of the Association, Gen Patrick Akpa(retd), who convened the meeting yesterday, said the gathering was purely to discuss the unfortunate attack on their communities by herdsmen.
These attacks are coming barely six months after the governor of the state, Yahaya Bello, gave an open invitation to herdsmen to relocate to the state, even against public outcry from the citizenry. The governor further demarcated three council areas to be used as pioneer testing ground for the controversial cattle colony scheme of the Federal Government.
Reacting to the attack, Kogi State government condemned it, saying it was politically motivated. Speaking on behalf of government, the Director-General, Bureau of Information and Grassroot Mobilization, Abdulmalik Abdulkareem, said Governor Yahaya Bello has directed his security adviser to liaise with security operatives to investigate the unfortunate incident