Herdsmen attacks claimed 300 lives in three months

Over the past few years, tens of thousands of victims had lost their lives in clashes between farmers and herdsmen across the country especially in the Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa and Taraba states axis including Zamfara State. Till date the number of victims has not reduced.

However, between September last year and January 2018 alone, almost 300 people had lost their lives.

For example in Taraba State more than 100 people had been killed by herdsmen in the last three months.

Sunday Tribune investigation revealed that more than 63 people were killed in Lau Local Government Area alone, in January. This figure was confirmed by the state governor, Darius Ishaku, while blaming the federal government for being indifferent to the plight of his people.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has it on record that 40 other persons were killed in separate attacks in Wukari, Donga, and Gassol local government areas within the same period.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, ASP David Misal told Sunday Tribune in an interview that the state police command could not give a precise figure of the number of victims because most of the deaths were not reported.

Barely ten hours after Governor Ishaku raised the alarm over notice of an impending attack on the state, gunmen made good their threat and killed four persons in Ngutswen village of Gassol Local Government Area of the state.

Narrating the incident, Mr Tyav Ngutswen who is the eldest surviving person in the village said that the heavily armed attackers numbering over twenty stormed the village around 10:00 pm and opened fire killing four persons as they scampered for safety. He added that more than 10 persons had been killed in the village by herdsmen since the beginning of year.


We have lost count of victims

In Plateau State, the last quarters of 2017 witnessed unprecedented killings. Though the incessant clashes between the natives and herdsmen were tamed in some local government areas of the state, it was severe in Barakin Ladi, Riyom and Bassa councils areas.

In these local governments there was no week without reported cases of attacks mostly by gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen. There were also reports of reprisals.

The Northern senatorial zone of the state mostly Riyom and Barakin-Ladi axis have been a trouble spot for a very long time. It is recalled that it was in the latter local government that Senator Gyang Dantong and his counterpart at the state House of Assembly, Hon. Gyang Danfulani were killed.

In this local government and neighbouring Riyom, quite a number of people were killed and no fewer than 54 communities sacked and taken over by the herdsmen.

The national president of a pressure group, Berom Youth Movement, Comrade Choji Dalyop Chuwang told Sunday Tribune that the number of people killed by the herdsmen in the two Berom-speaking local government could not be quantified.

“It may interest you to know that towards the end of last year there was no day that we didn’t bury people killed by Fulani gunmen in these two local government areas. So at a point we lost count.

“But I can tell you that the number of people killed from October to January this year should be within the range of 100 people   but I can conveniently tell you that no fewer than 54 communities had been sacked and occupied by the Fulani herdsmen. The inhabitants were displaced in Riyom and Barakin-Ladi, we have it on record that 93 communities experienced one form of attack or the other within this period you mentioned,” he said

In Bassa local government area of the state, it was the same gory tale. Stephanos Foundation, saddled with the responsibility of helping those in distress especially in crisis-prone areas reported that no fewer than 75 people had been killed while 23 others were injured following attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen in two communities in Irigwe kingdom, Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State.

Executive Director of the Fundation, Mark Lipdo, said on October 15th, 2017 alone 29 people were killed in a classroom under military watch at Miango in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State adding that the people posited that in just five weeks, two major communities of Irigwe were attacked while 75 people were killed, 23 were injured and 489 houses burnt, while 13,726 people displaced.

The Chairman of Irigwe Development Association, Hon. Sunday Abdu said within the space of two weeks in January alone no fewer than 50 people were killed and several houses burnt down by the herdsmen adding that most of the incidents happened even in the presence of security agencies.

“I cannot give you specific figure, in the first two weeks in January we were burying people every day and there was no day that we buried fewer than three persons and this unfortunate incident started since last year. So you can imagine the number of people that might have been killed by the herdsmen,” he said.


Killings continue unabated

In December, 2017, though there was relative peace, it was not without tension as a result of threats by Miyeitti Allah, Kauta Hore leaders who were not comfortable with the anti-open grazing law, which took effect on November, 1st, 2017. No death was immediately recorded.

However in January, there were over 100 victims in both Guma and Logo local government areas. Though 73 persons were officially given mass burial, report indicated that there were about 12 persons whose bodies were found decomposed and were ordered to be buried immediately.

Since the mass burial, report of killings had continued unabated, according to the President General Mdzough U Tiv, the major socio cultural group of the Tiv nation, Chief Edward Ujegeh, who said that 24 people were reported dead after the mass burial of the 73 persons.

He added that 29 persons of Tiv extraction were killed at Kadarko in Nasarawa state, stressing that the figure rises by the day. According to him, “the record I have indicates that aside the 73 given mass burial, there were also 24 people killed after the mass burial and the latest report from Kadarko in Nasarawa is that 29 persons were killed within the last one week.”

He explained that figure did not include those whose bodies were found decomposed and were buried by their families.

In Zamfara State, more than 1000 lives had been lost to farmers/herders clashes and cattle rustling in the last eight years. The state chairman of council of chiefs and Emir of Anka, Alhaji Attahiru Muhammad Ahmad while speaking on issues surrounding catttle rustling and crimes in the state said 50,000 cattle had also been stolen while more that 5,000 women had been raped and 2000 people kidnapped.

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