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11 feared dead, 7 missing, cores injured in interstate communal clashes, herders conflict in Benue

11 feared dead, 7 missing, cores injured in interstate communal clashes, herders conflict in Benue

By Jude Iboroma

11 persons were feared dead, over seven others declared missing while scores sustained serious injuries in three separate bloody clashes between Benue farmers and herders and a bloody communal clash between Benue and Cross River State communities.

It was gathered that the crisis which occurred in the last two days at Mbakunu and Tyor Wen in Kwande LGA and Uhur in Guma LGA would have gotten out of hand but for the intervention of the troops of Operation Whirl Stroke, OPWS.

In his account of the crisis, the Chairman of Guma LGA, Mr. Anthony Shawon claimed that armed herdsmen invaded Uhur community and killed five farmers.

He explained that the killing sparked a reprisal by his people which led to further attacks by armed herders.

“It was the herders who attacked us first and our people retaliated. They killed five of our people on Thursday. For sometime now it has been killings and reprisals on both sides of our farmers and herdsmen. In fact as we speak they are moving to Torkula village but we have alerted the OPWS who are moving in.”

On his part, the State Secretary of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN, Ibrahim Galama however alleged that Tiv farmers strayed into Nasarawa state and killed three herders which might have triggered the reprisal yesterday.

“There is ongoing meetings to stop all these crisis. It was however alleged that some Tiv farmers strayed into Nasarawa state yesterday and killed three herders which may have caused this problem,” Galama said.

Meanwhile the Caretaker Chairman of Kwande LGA, Mr. Yakwan Tertsua also yesterday confirmed the communal crisis between the border communities of Mbakunu in Kwande LGA of the state and Odam in Obaliku LGA of Cross River State and another on the Benue and Taraba state border.

According to him, “few days ago we noticed the presence of Fulani herdsmen in our territory at Mbakunu the community bordering Kwande and Obaliku in Cross River state.

“We called the attention of Agro Rangers they went there and interfaces with the herders and warned them to stay away from our land because of our grazing law.

“They claimed that they paid money to the Chief in Obaliku who showed them that area. But the Agro Rangers warmed them that the area belonged to Benue state and that they should not graze there.

“They promised to withdraw from the area in three days but before the three days elapsed they joined forces with people of Licheche in Obaliku LG of Cross River State to attack our people who went to farm at Mbakunu in Shangev ya

“Several of them were injured in the attack and as we speak 12 of them sustained serious injuries and have been admitted in hospital.

“Already 10 of them have been transferred from the General Hospital Adikpo to the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, BSUTH, Makurdi. We are also making arrangement to bring another with neck injury to Makurdi.

“Though there have not been fighting between us and the people of Licheche as far as I can remember.

“But I think this latest crisis has to do with the boundary demarcation that has been proposed by the National Boundary Commission, NBC, because based on the Lord Lugard map the land they are claiming is their own, if you look at it you will discover it falls within Benue.

“I think that is what has angered them. I suspect that is their grievance though I did not ask them. I believe that the Fulani herders thing was a decoy, the actual thing is the beacon that has been established by the NBC which we are negotiating so that the land can be handed over to Benue.

“As we speak the military have drafted their personnel to the area because the Police were outnumbered and outgunned yesterday so they called in reinforcement and we also called the Operation Whirl Stroke, OPWS who came in and took control of the situation and also apprehended one of the mercenaries.”

Continuing, Mr. Tertsua said, “there is also the clash at Tyor Wen the border community between Benue and Taraba states where it was reported that three herdsmen were killed and burnt but it is under investigation to establish exactly how they were killed and who killed them, whether it was Tiv people or not. So we cannot conclude at this stage.

“The problem was discovered yesterday but we do not know when they were killed exactly but it was discovered by the personnel of OPWS.

“The report we have is that seven of our men are still missing. That issue is a matter of herders who entered the farmland in the areas which led to the conflict,” he added.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent, DSP, Catherine Anene confirmed the crisis between the people of Mbakunu in Kwande LGA of the state and Odam in Obaliku LGA of Cross River State adding that security had been beefed up in the area.

She explained that she was yet to receive information on the other clashes.

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