NIGERIA – BENUE STATE : GUNMEN KILLED 17 IN MARKET ATTACK
Benue is a state in the mid-belt region of Nigeria with a population of about 4,253,641 in 2006 census. The state is highly rich in culture and peaceful trends until the recent attacks that cost many their lives and properties.
On 20th March, Gunmen killed 17 people, mostly women and children, after invading a farming community in central Nigeria. The attack in Benue State occurred on Monday, the state police spokesman Moses Yamu narrated that attackers were on motorcycles and cars opened fire on a market and set buildings on fire.
He further said, “There was indeed an attack yesterday afternoon in a market in Zaki Biyam by unknown persons. Seventeen people were killed and 11 injured by the gunmen,”
“We have not made any arrests and we are yet to find out the motive for the attack. We have been given some names of some suspects in the attack and we are on their trail.”
According to an eyewitness, the attack started around 2p.m., adding that “the gunmen stormed the yam market on about 12 Bajaj motorcycles and four Toyota Corolla cars and started shooting at anyone in sight.”
The eyewitness described the incident as a deadly face.
Furthermore, the state Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama, confirmed the killings but stated that the police were yet to ascertain the exact number of casualties.
During the course of the killing, Governor Samuel Ortom was giving a run down of the security situation in state and also trying so hard to bring an end to the invasion and attacks by herdsmen on innocent people of the state.
He stated that his decision to expel Fulani herdsmen in the affected areas of the state was to pave the way for Tiv farmers to continue their farming activities. However, this decision might be the cause of the attack.
He further stated that it was impossible for herdsmen and farmers to operate in harmony, pointing out that his administration would not fold its arms and allow people fall prey to foreigners and killers and it was his government’s responsibility to ensure security for the people
Also speaking with the residents, the state police commissioner, on behalf of other security agencies, called for caution among youths and urged them to restrain themselves from resorting to violence at the slightest provocation. He assured that they will get to the root of the matter.
Benue had experienced numerous attacks in most recent time, in February 2016, hundreds of people were said to have been killed and about 1,000 homes destroyed in the Agatu area of the state in a wave of attacks blamed on the Fulani. Also, 36 persons were feared killed as 7 villages were overrun by suspected Fulani herdsmen in an outbreak of fighting between the invaders and native farmers in Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State. Consequently, the member representing Agatu constituency in the Benue state House of Assembly, Audu Sule said that Nigerian security service need to act fast before some communities in the state are completely wiped out due to what he described as the introduction of suspected chemical weapons in some of the attacks.
It has been observed recently that Benue has experienced increased cases of terrorism and insecurity and it appears to be getting worse. The slogan, “the fear of Fulani is the beginning of wisdom” has echoed across the communities in Benue State as people are afraid to go about their daily activities.
President Muhammadu Buhari shared his condolences via Twitter on Tuesday, March 21st.
“I am saddened by the recent attack by gunmen in a market in Zaki Biam, Benue State, and which resulted in the loss of lives,” he said further said, ” I commiserate with the Government and the people of Benue State. I assure that the incident will be investigated and the perpetrators will be brought to justice”