There is growing anger in Plateau State communities as a new dimension has been added to the farmers/herders crisis there: uunknown persons stormed farmlands and destroyed crops almost due for harvesting.
This comes as 13 persons, including a three month’s old baby were mowed down in alleged attacks by Fulani herdsmen in Governor Samuel Ortom’s Guma Local Government Area of Benue State.
In Plateau State, accusing fingers are being pointed in the direction of Fulani herdsmen, but results of investigations are being awaited from the Police and other authorities.
Worse, the destruction took place in Bassa Local Government Area, known for violent clashes between farmers and herders, often leading to deaths.
Herders have taken their onslaught against the Benue people to Guma, Governor Samuel Ortom’s Local Government Area in Benue State as they have killed thirteen persons, including a three-month-old baby.
The deaths which were recorded in two separate attacks happened on Tuesday barely a day after suspected herdsmen killed eight persons, including two aid workers, in the same local council.
The Locals said gunmen attacked a bus loaded with mourners who were returning from a burial at Umenger around Torkula village, resulting in the death of three persons. Two victims, who were shot, were reportedly receiving treatment at a hospital in Makurdi.
The three-month-old baby was shot in the chest, while its mother was shot on the lap.
Udei community was said to have been attacked on the same Tuesday night by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen in which eight persons were killed.
The Chairman of Guma, Caleb Aba, while confirming the incidences said 13 persons were killed in the two attacks on Udei and Torkula.
In his words, “It is true that there was an attack yesterday. There was a burial in Torkula and people, who were returning from the burial, came under attack and about five were killed.
“Again at about 10 p.m., yesterday, there was another attack at Udei where about eight people were killed, totalling about 13 people only yesterday. Two persons were injured, by the information I received, and they are now receiving treatment in the hospital.”
However, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Catherine Anene, said she was yet to be briefed on the attack and promised to revert as soon as she gets the information.
Plateau governor, Simon Lalong, has described as callous, criminal, inhuman and wicked, the wilful destruction of farm crops by yet to be apprehended criminals.
Governor Lalong while reacting to the ugly development, according to his spokesman, Dr. Makut Simon Macham, said it is unimaginable that people will go into a farm and mow down flourishing crops that are nearing maturity and expected to be harvested in the coming weeks and months for whatever reason.
This according to him is a premeditated act that must be addressed.
His words, “the recent case of such intentional decimation of farm crops in Kpachudu, Jebbu Miango in Bassa Local Government area is totally condemnable and unacceptable. From the reports, this is a carefully planned and executed act that is not only meant to provoke crisis, suspicion and instability in the area, but also render the victims poor and hungry. What these criminals fail to understand is that such actions will eventually leave the entire State and the country with food shortages where even the perpetrators will not escape”.
He directed the security agencies to immediately swing into action by conducting a thorough investigation into the “terrorist activity with a view to arresting those behind it and prosecuting them.”
The statement adds: “The Government working with the security agencies will do everything within its power to unravel those behind this barbaric act and deal with them accordingly.
“Without prejudice to the directive to security agencies to investigate the matter and apprehend culprits, the Governor has also mandated the Plateau Peace Building Agency to visit the affected areas and ascertain the level of damage, as well as foster dialogue within the communities with a view to ensuring that such incidents are avoided.
“The Governor also wants community associations, traditional rulers, youth groups and vigilante platforms all over the State to be proactive by providing the security agencies with the intelligence to pre-empt and foil such plans as well as arresting the perpetrators who clearly are on a mission to return Plateau to the era of pain and agony.
The Governor sympathizes with the affected farmers and promises that the Government will do its best to ensure that they get justice.”