Residents in Makurdi yesterday trooped to the streets to protest against Tuesday’s killing of people in two local government areas of Benue State, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the killings in parts of the state or resign from office. Buhari, reacting yesterday to the latest attacks, described them as unacceptable, and assured people of the state that the attackers would be brought to justice and future incidents prevented. The Makurdi protesters said the Federal Government should intervene and stop ‘the madness.’ The protesters, mostly youths, barricaded most routes leading in and out of the state, vowing not to leave the streets until the presidency spoke on the killings.
One Mr Terhemen Anum said some residents in Guma and Logo local government areas and yet to be determined number of peasant farmers, women, children and the aged were attacked but no one had spoken from ‘the high places.’ Another resident, Ruth Agba, said there was evidence that the gunmen killed some farmers, burnt down their homes and destroyed their farms. Governor Samuel Ortom had declared that gunmen killed over 20 and injured over 30 in Benue between Monday and Tuesday in Guma and logo local government areas, while some locals said the dead would not be less than 50.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for the Benue command, ASP. Moses Joel Yamu, said in a statement Tuesday night that the attackers were most likely herders. He specified that eight herders had been arrested in connection with the fresh killings. The angry protesters of yesterday threw stones at security men who were drafted to douse tension. They made bonfires, chanted war songs and blocked streets.
The protesters became even more violent when Governor Samuel Orton visited the scene to calm them. They began to pelt him and members of his convoy such that the soldiers and police intervened with gunshots into the air before the governor was whisked away. The protesters had insisted that the governor should not calm them except the Federal Government which had the might intervened.
Responding yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari commiserated with Governor Samuel Ortom and Benue people. Buhari, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, described the incident as ‘one attack too many,’ and promised that everything would be done to provide security for the people in rural communities. Buhari expressed “immense sadness at the wicked and callous attacks on even innocent children, and assured the governor and people of the state that relevant security agencies had been directed to do everything possible to arrest those behind the incidents and avert further attacks