BEVERLY HILLS, June 07, (THEWILL) – No fewer than 27 have been confirmed killed and many others wounded on Sunday after suspected Fulani herdsmen attacked Odugbeho village in Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State.
Confirming the attack, the State Chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), John Ngbede, said about 25 corpses have been recovered and buried.
Ngbede, who is a political leader in the local government, said: “A leader in the village told me this morning that 25 corpses have been found and buried and people are in the bush searching for missing persons.
“The Local Government Chairman and security operatives have gone to the affected community this morning, when they are back, we will be able to know the actual number of people that died.”
While confirming the attack, the Council Chairman, Adohi Sule, said that the militia herders stormed the community between 5:00 pm and 5:30 pm where they killed 27 people.
Sule explained that the attackers invaded the community when some people were burying their dead and others were in the market.
Sule added: “We are just coming back from the community, 27 people were found killed and the herdsmen attacked and fled.”
A resident, Isaac Oche, said, “The suspected herdsmen invaded our village around 5:45 pm and started shooting sporadically, killing anyone on sight and disappeared around 6:40 pm after killing so many people, as they escaped through the bush and we later returned to the village shortly after the attack, only to recovered eleven bodies from the village centre.”
Isaac further stated that, “We saw another nine bodies scattered on the roadside but couldn’t evacuate them for fear of the unknown.
“We cannot stay any longer to recover all the dead bodies this night because it is dark and no security, I believe more bodies will be recovered when the day breaks and security agents are around.”
He said the herdsmen, who were believed to have come from Nasarawa State, passed through the neighbouring Gwer West Local Government Area in a guerrilla-style, took them unaware, saying the high number of casualties is due to the fact that it was on Sunday and most people were at home.
Corroborating the first eyewitness’ account, another eyewitness, Iyu Goche, said he was one of the youths that searched and recovered the corpses, adding that the death toll could rise on Monday.
Confirming the report, the State Command Public Relations Officer, DSP, Catherine Anene, has confirmed the attack on Odugbeho.
Anene said the Commissioner of Police, Audu Madaki, had ordered the deployment of more policemen to the area and said that the number of victims was yet to be known.
She said, “The Agatu attack is confirmed and the Commissioner of Police has deployed more police officers to manage the incident and forestall further breakdown of law and order.
“Number of victims is yet to be ascertained as officers are still engaged in stabilising the area.”
Herdsmen invasions have been a nightmare for communities in Benue State with Agatu experiencing a great number of losses to these attacks.
A few weeks back, suspected Fulani herdsmen from Nasarawa invaded the riverine areas of Guma, Makurdi, and Agatu local government areas, killing many, displacing thousands of inhabitants, and occupying the deserted villages.
The marauders denied inhabitants access to their farms even as the cropping season enters its major period, a development that experts believe will result in an unimaginable famine next year.