Suspected herdsmen have rendered no fewer than 5,000 residents of Mbatoho Chile community, an Island close to Benue State Government House, of Makurdi local government homeless following a fresh attack.
The attack took place despite the commencement of Exercise Ayem A’ Kpatuma by the military to check the incursion of herdsmen into parts of Benue state.
The herdsmen also destroyed several house, farmlands and food barns of their victims.
Some of the displaced persons, who fled into Makurdi main town from the island to seek the state government’s intervention, said that the well armed herdsmen started attacking the island some four days ago.
According to the Community Leader of the Island, Chief Peter Tachie, “the armed herdsmen who are usually dressed in black started their action four days ago in our community.
“They came in their numbers with their cattle into island from Guma local government area on foot some weeks ago because the water level of River Benue has dropped significantly so they could assess the island on foot.
“Four days ago they started destroying our houses, farmland and food barns and also taking over the LGEA Primary school in the island and converting same for personal use.
“As we speak no Tiv person is on that island at the moment, they have taken our farms and also uprooted our cassava from our plantation to feed their cattle which are also grazing on our farmland.
“They have destroyed all that we spent years to acquire, so we have all moved into Makurdi main town with our families to seek government’s attention before the situation will get out of hand.
“You know that we do a lot of dry season farming on the Island and as we speak all that we planted in this dry season have all been destroyed by the herdsmen and their cattle.”
The head Teacher of the only Primary School on the Island, LGEA Primary School, Daudu, Mr. Otave Ephram told Vanguard that close to 400 pupil of the school had been chased out of school by the invaders.
“All my pupils who are close to 400 have been chased out of school and displaced due to the activities of the herdsmen who have taken over the entire island and chased out the locals,” he said.
The Benue State Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni said the command had received reports of the development.
Speaking on the issue, Deputy Governor of Benue state, Mr. Benson Abounu said the government was yet to get full details of the development, explaining that the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Lt. Col. Paul Hemba (Rtd.) had been directed to liaise with the Benue State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni to ascertain the veracity of the development.
“We are not sure of what is happening in that place because it is an island but the Adviser on Security has been directed to liaise with the Commissioner of Police and come out with a clearer picture of the true position of things in that place,” Abounu said.