Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu announced yesterday that his administration would procure weapons to defend its residents from life-threatening marauders and organised criminals.
The proclamation was made by the governor as at least 14 persons were killed on Wednesday night in two separate attacks by suspected armed herdsmen on the communities of Mchia and Mou in Benue State's Logo Local Government Area.
At the same time, tensions have grown at the Ekwegbe intersection of the Nsukka-Enugu Bypass Road in Enugu State's Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area since Wednesday night, suspected armed herders barricaded the intersection while firing sporadically with AK-47 rifles in pursuit of prey.
Meanwhile, the Paramount Ruler of Atyap Chiefdom, Agwatyap, Sir Dominic Yahaya, said yesterday that failure by government to adopt and integrate local, traditional hunters and vigilantes conversant with the hideouts of terrorists and bandits has worsened insecurity in Southern Kaduna, resulting in massive killings.
Making his declaration in a statement, entitled “ We Believe In One Nigeria, But We Cannot Have One Country, Two Systems,’’ which he personally signed, in Akure, Governor Akeredolu was reacting to a video that had gone viral, showing the equivalent of the Western Nigeria Security Network (Amotekun Corps) in Katsina, obtaining the approval of the Federal Government to bear arms.
Consequently, he said his administration will not watch while its citizens are being terrorized and murdered with impunity.
He said: “We will defend our people; what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Ondo State Government, under the doctrine of necessity, has decided to fulfill its legal, constitutional and moral duty to the citizens of the state by acquiring arms to protect them.
“This is more so, given that the bandits have an unchecked access to sophisticated weapons. The video making the rounds showing the equivalent of the Western Nigeria Security Network (Amotekun Corps) in Katsina obtaining the approval of the Federal Government to bear arms is fraught with great dangers.
“Denying Amotekun the urgently needed rights to legitimately bear arms is a repudiation of the basis of true federalism which we have been clamoring for.
“That Katsina was able to arm its state security force, with the display of AK-47, means we are pursuing one country, two systems’ solution to the national question.
“If the Katsina situation is conferring advantages on some, in the face of commonly-faced existential threats, it means that our unitary policing system, which has failed, is a deliberate method of subjugation which must be challenged.
“The Independence agreement was based on a democratic arrangement to have a federal state and devolved internal security mechanics.
“We must go back to that agreement. Denying Amotekun the right to bear arms exposes the South-West to life-threatening marauders and organized crime. It is also a deliberate destruction of our agricultural sector. It is an existential threat.’’
14 women, children killed, over 30 injuredas suspected herdsmen attack Benue communities
On the present security situation in Benue State, no fewer than 14 people were on Wednesday night murdered in two separate attacks by suspected armed herdsmen on Mchia and Mou communities in Logo Local Government Area of the state.
The attack also left close to 30 persons with serious injuries, while many others are missing or unaccounted for. It was gathered from a leader in the area, Chief Joseph Anawa, that the invaders stormed the communities at about 10pm.
He said: “It is a sad day for us here in Logo. Armed herdsmen attacked Mchia, a settlement along Abeda-Anyiin road, just three kilometres to Anyiin, the Logo LGA headquarters, at about 10pm.
“They killed 12 people there and shot so many that are in the hospital at the moment. One cannot tell of their present condition because they were severely wounded.
“The attackers did not stop there, they went to Mou village where they shot so many people and killed two on the spot. Many are also missing and unaccounted for.
“These attacks were unprovoked. At Mchia village, the people actually saw the herdsmen and heard them speaking their language.
“They came with sophisticated weapons from Arufu settlement in Wukari LGA of Taraba State which shares the same border with our communities.
“The attack was totally unprovoked; there was no conflict between them and the attacked communities. They just want to chase us away from our ancestral homes and take over, so they can have free access to graze on our farms.
“The attacked communities are all connected and close to Taraba State. In fact, it is just a tarred road that serves as demarcation between the communities in Benue and those in Taraba State; That is what the colonial masters left for us.
“We actually need security in that place, particularly at Chembe settlement. That is the point from which they cross into our communities. If we have a security post there, they will not be able to cross over to unleash mayhem on the people. That is the immediate solution to this repeated attacks.”
Reacting, Logo Local Government Council Chairman, Mrs. Salome Tor, who lamented that the attack was unprovoked, said: “They went from one house to the other and slaughtered innocent people.
“Women and children were gruesomely murdered in the attack. It’s pathetic and traumatic for everyone, we have not slept since last night (Wednesday) I am shocked beyond words. I am working with the security agencies on the matter. Actually, there is a detachment of the 72 Battalion of the Army stationed close to the attacked communities.
“When I got wind of the attack, I called the military and the Agro Rangers though it was raining heavily, but before they mobilised to the area, the invaders had unleashed mayhem on the people and retreated. They killed a total of 14 persons and badly wounded over 25 others who have been moved to hospitals for treatment.”
Confirming the attack, Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matters, Lt. Col. Paul Hemba, retd, also disclosed that the troops of Operation Whirlstroke, OPWS, the joint military/security operation, repelled a similar attack on Ortese and Nkohol communities in Guma LGA where many of the invaders were killed.
“They, however, burnt five motorcycles belonging to the military personnel which they parked while chasing them on foot,’’he said.
Contacted, the Force Commander of OPWS, Maj. Gen. Kevin Aligbe, who also confirmed the attack, said the troops had also received intelligence about a planned attack by the terrorists on Ortese, Nkohol and two other locations in Guma LGA on Tuesday night.
He said: “We quickly deployed in the night and reinforced the places Wednesday morning. My troops noticed where they were hibernating in the bush and went after them. They made contacts with them; they saw them carrying their casualties and running into the bush.
“In the course of coming back, one of our soldiers slumped, he was not shot. He was rushed to the hospital where he was confirmed dead. We are still maintaining the trend in that axis and that is why you have not heard about any attack.
“The pattern of settlement of the people too is not helping us. But our troops are managing the situation in Logo.”
Also, the Benue State Police Commissioner, Wale Abass, who equally confirmed the attacks, said the police had recorded 10 deaths.
Similarly, there is anxiety at the Ekwegbe Axis of Nsukka-Enugu Bypass Road, Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State, as suspected herdsmen on Wednesday evening, blocked the road, shooting sporadically with AK-47 rifles, in search of who to kidnap.
Newsmen gathered that the gunmen were hooded and were seen in the signature attire of the herdsmen.
A survivor of the incident who identified himself as Chidiebere, said the driver of the vehicle he was traveling in from Enugu to Nsukka was fast enough to make a u-turn when he sighted the herdsmen shooting sporadically into the air in a bid to allegedly kidnap road users.
He also said they returned to Ugwuogo Nike in Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State where they spent at least three hours before continuing their journey to Nsukka when they learnt that the gunmen had left.
He said that the gunmen were in batches along the road.
The witness said: “The gunmen were hooded and wearing this normal herdsmen’s hat. They blocked the road around Ekwegbe Axis of Nsukka-Enugu Bypass Road and were shooting sporadically with AK-47 rifles to scare road users and possibly abduct them. This happened at about 5pm around Maduka Onyishi University in Ekwegbe.
“They mounted road blocks in batches, so that if you escape one group, another would hold you.
“As our driver returned to Ugwuogo Nike, another vehicle, which had overtaken us while we were going, also returned to where we were at Ugwuogo Nike. The occupants narrated how the gunmen were shooting at them and how they managed to escape.’’
Although, the number of victims were yet to be ascertained at press time, it was gathered that a similar incident happened last Sunday around the same Ekwegbe axis.
All efforts to hear from the spokesperson for the Enugu State Command, Daniel Ndukwe, proved abortive as he neither responded to calls nor text messages put across to his phone line.
Meanwhile, the Paramount ruler of Atyap Chiefdom in Southern Kaduna, Sir Dominic Yahaya, has lamented the frequent killings in the area, saying failure to adopt and integrate local and traditional hunters and vigilantes conversant with the terrorists and bandits had worsened insecurity in Southern Kaduna.
The monarch, who called for the immediate establishment of local community policing to complement the efforts of the Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies, spoke during the celebration of International Peace Day in Southern Kaduna.
He alleged that 245 locals had been killed, while 623 houses were razed in an attack by Fulani living within his domain, in Zangon-Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
He said: “The reoccurring attacks have become most distressful and disturbing, as the alleged killers who are known to have lived among the communities will often call their victims to notify them of their mission to kill, before committing dastardly acts on the innocent and harmless farmers.
“The genesis, which many considered premeditated, started in early 2019 when isolated individual killings of farmers by suspected herdsmen within our midst became rampant and before we knew what was happening, about 14 such incidences had occurred.
“This snowballed into a major crisis on June 16 2020. Thereafter, massive attacks have occurred in villages where people were killed and houses and properties burnt by suspected herdsmen, which some uninformed people termed as farmer-herder clashes, whereas this narrative has been most painful as the attacks which occur mostly at night have left many communities desolate.
“Security agents were grossly inadequate to handle the situation in the villages as the attacks in some cases occurred simultaneously. It could have been worse if the security agents were not there. With nowhere to go, the communities have turned to God.
“Failure to adopt and integrate local and traditional hunters and vigilantes who are very conversant with local environments and forest that serve as hideout for terrorists had worsened the situation.
“The enactment of laws that will recognize the state vigilante’s services, the civilian task force and the hunters group, should be harmonized as a single entity.’’