Emotions are still running high in Benue State, days after the killing of over 30 persons in two local government areas, but Governor Samuel Ortom has already appealed for calm and urged his people not to take the laws into their hands, in the face of unchecked slaughter of Nigerians by alleged Fulani herdsmen.
Pastoralists and farmers have had a long history of violence, but recently, the middle-belt States where many claim to be Christians have been worst hit. Kaduna, Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, and Plateau are among those that have suffered.
Religious and political motives have been read into the violence, but the menace of the pastoralists is as old as the country. The violence that attends the foray southwards of the migrant herdsmen from the core northern States is sending jitters across the country that other forces are using the menace to further their interests.
IN Benue, Ortom told journalists on Wednesday that the leaders of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore must be arrested because they threatened to invade the state last year. He said they had made the comments over the State’s anti-grazing law that prohibits open grazing there, adding that there was no going back on the law.
Youths in Benue surged out in anger in Makurdi, the state capital over the killings, but Ortom cautioned that reprisals could complicate matters. He said he had briefed President Muhammadu Buhari and was awaiting his reaction.
In a reaction, the President commiserated with him over the reported killings, injury of several persons and wanton destruction of property in Guma and Logo Local Government Areas of the state in the New Year.
In a statement by one of his spokespersons, Mallam Garba Shehu, he expressed immense sadness at the “wicked and callous” attacks on even innocent children.
The President assured the governor and people of the state that relevant security agencies have been directed to do everything possible to arrest those behind the regrettable incidents and avert further attacks.
“This is one attack too many, and everything must be done to provide security for the people in our rural communities,” he said.
President Buhari also commiserated with families of the victims and wished the injured speedy healing.