Home Nigeria Benue buries 17 persons killed by ‘herders’ as governor suggests solution

Benue buries 17 persons killed by ‘herders’ as governor suggests solution

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The Benue State Government on Tuesday conducted a mass burial for 17 residents of Mbaikyor, Gwer-East Local Government Area (LGA). The victims were killed last month when suspected armed herders attacked the community.
Speaking during the burial of the victims in Mbaikyor, the state governor, Hyacinth Alia, said the solution to the incessant attack on farmers by armed herders was the formation of vigilante groups.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that armed herders on 7 March attacked the Mbaikyor community and killed 17 persons, including a retired WO2 Army officer and a boy.

NAN, however, learnt that two out of the 17 farmers were earlier buried because the corpses were fast decomposing, but the remaining 15 were buried on Tuesday.

Represented by his deputy, Sam Ode, Governor Alia condemned the brutal killings in strong terms.

He said the Benue government was committed to the protection of lives and property of all citizens.

“Today is a sad day in the history of Benue State; to line up caskets like this is unacceptable. I am so sad and my heart is heavy to behold this kind of sight that shouldn’t have happened.”

“Security is not for government alone because there is no one that can protect you like yourself.

”You need to have a Joint Security Taskforce or vigilante groups that would be properly profiled and handed over to the government to handle them.

“That is the solution to the insecurity we are facing in the state,” he said.

He pledged to construct the rural road that passed through the area to ease the movement of security agencies to the area in times of emergencies, adding that the community also needed a police station.

The governor further promised to meet with the families of the bereaved after the burial and also prayed against the reoccurrence of such incidents.

Earlier, Elias Audu, member of the Benue House of Assembly (BNHA) representing Gwer-East State Constituency, regretted that despite the availability of fighter jets in the country to tackle such incidents, security agencies did not live up to their billings.

Mr Audu advised that the relevant security agencies should be reprimanded because they failed to intervene in the crisis using the available fighter jets at their disposal. He said the attack lasted for over three hours.

Mr Audu, however, commended Governor Alia for all he had done since the attack including the Easter distribution of relief materials he made available to the victims’ families.

The lawmaker also conveyed to the bereaved families, the condolences of the Speaker of the Benue Assembly, Aondona Dajoh.

The President of Masev Development Association (MDA), Vitalis Tarhule, said the primary responsibility of government was the protection of lives and property and appealed to the government to endeavour to protect the people at all times.

Mr Tarhule said that similar attacks had occurred in 2014, 2018 and 2024 within the axis resulting in about 40 deaths.

He stressed the need to establish a security post in Mbaikyor to check the unwholesome activities of armed herders.

The Chairman of the association of Mbaikyor sons in diaspora, Simon Kofi, said the community had apprehended two herders and handed them over to the police following their nefarious activities.

Mr Kofi explained that their crime was that they told the herders not to come back to the community again, a situation that, he said, prompted the attack on his kinsmen.

NAN reports that an interdenominational service was conducted for the victims.

Before the recent attack on the community, the last one occurred in 2018. Then, armed herders attacked and killed two priests and 16 parishioners during a morning mass.

PREMIUM TIMES reports that Benue has witnessed several cases of mass killings by persons suspected to be armed herders. Hundreds of people have been killed in such attacks and counterattacks in recent years amidst a continuous tussle over grazing rights.

The Benue State Government put in place an anti-open grazing law to check the open grazing of cattle in the state by herders, which often triggers violence as the cattle sometimes destroy farms owned by locals.

The anti-open grazing law has, however, not stopped the incessant violence between migrant herders and local farming communities.

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