Samuel Ortom, governor of Benue state, says suspected herdsmen have killed 492 people in Benue in 2018 alone.
Ortom said this on Tuesday during the burial of two Catholic priests – Felix Tyolaha and Joseph Gor – and 17 parishioners killed by gunmen during a raid on Saint Ignatius Parish, Mbalom, Benue.
The governor regretted the attacks on the church, wondering: “these people were in the church and not on their farms; by this act, they gave moved their narrative to include other motives”.
He called on the federal government to arrest the killer-herdsmen, saying ” we know our killers but they are not arrested or invited for interrogation; they have stated at several fora that they would reclaim their land.”
The governor said the anti-open grazing law passed by the state assembly and accented by him, was the best way in curbing incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the country.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo who attended the service said the killers will not go unpunished.
The vice-president, who was accompanied on the trip by ministers, top ranking politicians of different political shades, expressed the government’s commitment to end the attacks.
He said the perpetrators of such dastardly and heinous crimes do not deserve to live among decent people but prayed for the conversion of their souls.
The bishops who spoke at the burial called in the government to ensure the killers were brought to book.
A team representing the Catholic Church in West Africa were also at the burial.
The corpses of the Mbalom church attack were laid to rest at a small hilltop village situated on the outskirts of Ikpayongo, in Gwer east local government council.