The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) said it is alarmed at the number of reported cases of mass killings in Benue State of recent. The ACF is a northern sociocultural group made up of different professionals in the region.
ACF said the most recent and gruesome was the one on Thursday morning last week in which about 40 people were murdered in one day and another large number of people dislodged from their home at Shikaan village in Mbamena ward in Katsina Ala local government area of the state.
A statement issued by the national publicity secretary of the forum, Mr Emmanuel Yawe, noted that the country home of a retired senior naval commodore Iyortyer Afeah who is from the village was completely burnt down with the four people who were inside.
It further noted that other prominent indigenes of the village whose houses were burnt are the late wife of former Chief Justice of Nigeria CJN, Justice Katsina Alu, Mrs Victoria Alu, and a retired deputy controller general of immigration, Mr Denen Akaa.
He said, “the ACF is also informed of the attack, sacking and killings by competent sources who came to our offices after the Benue Police Command against all glaring evidence said the attack never took place. They came with pictures of burnt homes, dead bodies and those of the wounded. They listed all the victims’ names.
“Apart from those killed during the attack, many are receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Centre Makurdi. From what the victims told the ACF, the attack was organised by some bandits from a neighbouring Shitile/Tiv community.
“The victims said it is possible that those who want to complicate the security situation in Benue for selfish and political gains will want to read ethnic/religious meanings into it. We were attacked and about 40 of our brothers were murdered in cold blood by our Tiv brothers. Nobody should tell you that the Fulani came to murder us. Anybody who says so is a liar and the Almighty God will punish him”, they said.
ACF said other attacks in Benue, according to sources, are associated with the activities of livestock guards appointed by the Benue State government to implement the anti- open grazing law promulgated into law in the state.
“We were told that they rustle cattle and take them away under the pretext of enforcing the law. Unfortunately, they fail to account for the rustled cattle when the owners show up. We have gathered that some aggrieved Fulani men have in frustration launched attacks & killed many Tiv people for this reason.
“The Forum has received reports that many of the people killed in Gwer West were murdered as a result of the activities of one Emberga Utoo who led a band of livestock guards to rustle about 400 cattle and could not give a proper account when the owners showed up. Others killed by the Fulani in reprisal for their cattle rustled by livestock guards are 3 in Tse Jibrin, 3 at Jimba Saqhew, 5 at back Imande Abuul and 10 at Zegejir.
“We at the ACF are worried about the rampant loss of life in Benue and the seemingly desperate attempts by the state government to twist the narrative for political reasons and the security agencies who are not giving accurate accounts of the security situation in Benue for reasons that are difficult to see,” he said.