Afenifere, the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, and the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Monday condemned the killing of over one hundred persons by herdsmen and Azonto militia in Katsina-Ala Local Government Area of Benue State from weekend to Monday.
Daily Independent gathered that the Azonto militia headed by the second in command to the late Terwase Akwaza, a.k.a Gana, teamed up with the herdsmen to wreak havoc in the area.
As at the time of compiling this report, Daily Independent gathered that the coordinated attacks had consumed about four council wards of the LGA.
Katsina-Ala LGA Chairman, Alfred Atere, told newsmen in Makurdi on Monday that the military in the area may have been overwhelmed by the combined forces.
The attacks which commenced since Friday were still ongoing on Monday afternoon Daily Independent authoritatively reports.
Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said it is the refusal of the Federal Government to protect the other Nigerians that breeds agitation of people who insist on leaving the Nigerian federation because they feel rightly that the state is not willing to protect their interest.
Adebanjo, who lamented that those who were supposed to be in position of arresting killer-herdsmen were the ones protecting them, also said the agitations for separation would have died naturally if President Muhammadu Buhari was fair to all Nigerians.
“Buhari’s body language shows clearly he is the enemy of Nigeria’s unity because he refuses to do something to stop the spate of violence of Fulani herdsmen and bandits against other Nigerians.
“This constitution is a fraudulent constitution. The restructuring that I have been championing will attend to all the insecurity issues you are talking about”, he said.
On its part, Ohanaeze Ndigbo said only devolution of powers to the lower levels of government will sustain Nigeria as a country.
The National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Alex Ogbonnia, while reacting to the killings of over one hundred persons by Fulani herdsmen and ‘Azonto’ militia called on the Federal Government to hasten up the process of restructuring Nigeria for a true federalism.
He said only devolution of powers to the lower levels of government can sustain Nigeria as a country. “I weep for Benue State and I weep for Nigeria”, he said.
“It is a shame that at the present stage of global civilisation, human beings are killed like locusts in Nigeria.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide led by Ambassador Professor George Obiozor is deeply worried that the killings in Nigeria go on unabated”, the group said.
When contacted, the Benue State command of the Nigeria Police Force said it was not aware of the attacks and subsequent killings.
Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the command, Sewuese Anene, said the police were yet to have details on the issue.
Also efforts to get officials of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) to comment on the development since last weekend failed.
However, the Katsina-Ala LGA Chairman, Alfred Atera, listed the council wards affected by the attacks to include Yooyo, Mbaturan/Mberev, Utange and Mbayongo.
He pointed out that the incident has compelled locals to move out of the affected council wards in droves in the wake of the attacks.
“I have videos of the incident. The herdsmen have developed a strategy. They are not attacking one place. If they attack Kwaghanondo, the next thing you hear that they are attacking Utange.
“The military are going here and there but before they could get there, the herdsmen have finished and gone to the next point. So, that is the situation in Katsina-Ala.
“We have reported to all security authorities about what is going on. I’m in a meeting with my traditional rulers and putting heads together to see what we can do at our own level.
“I’m not suspecting any military connivance but I’m suspecting bandits, the existing bandits. I think they are trying to get cheap popularity; they are conniving to do that so that we could consider doing for them that which we have refused to do.
“It is better to die by Fulani herdsmen than allow our boys to kill us. The Gana remnants have connived with herdsmen to cause havoc and unrest in our area,” he lamented.
Meanwhile, the incident is coming on the heels of comments by the state governor, Samuel Ortom, last weekend that he was not going to cry out over herdsmen attacks on communities in the state.
He noted that he has told the people of the state to defend themselves in view of renewed killings by herdsmen in the state.
Governor Ortom reiterated the call at the interdenominational church service organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which held at the Chapel of Grace in Government House, Makurdi, to round off a seven-day prayer and fasting programme for peace in the state on Sunday.
He said, “I’ll no longer announce the deaths of those killed by Fulani herdsmen, rise up and defend yourselves with weapons not prohibited by law, bows and arrows, spears, knives, and similar ones.”
On threat to his life, Governor Ortom said, “God assured me some time back that as long as I lived within the circle of His Presence, no weapon fashioned against me shall prosper,” he stated.