Over 2,728 killed, 200,000 houses destroyed by herdsmen in Benue LGA - group raises alarm - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Over 2,728 killed, 200,000 houses destroyed by herdsmen in Benue LGA - group raises alarm

...65,000 children sent out of school

By Our Correspondent

A group, the Association of Kwande Academia, AKA, has raised the alarm over the ceaseless herdsmen invasion of Turan community in Kwande Local Government Area, LGA, of Benue state saying that over 2,728 persons including women and children have been murdered in the spate of attacks in the area.

The group also disclosed that more than 200,000 households have been destroyed and properties/farmlands worth over three trillion Naira completely ruined in the area by the marauders.

Addressing newsmen in Makurdi, President of AKA, Prof. Hilakaan Hemba recalled how over 3,000 herdsmen alongside their cattle were allegedly escorted by unknown military personnel in 2004 to Kashim-Bira in Taraba State through Jato-Aka, Turan, Kwande LGA to settle and when they were intercepted nothing was done by the government.

He said: “As the herders migrated into the area, they started grazing and encroaching on farmlands which consequently increased pressure on the land. Not surprisingly, disputes over crop damage and water pollution became more frequent. Herdsmen could open up farmer’s barns in the farm and eat up the yam, guinea corn, maize, cassava, cassava and flour

“Even the planted crops were uprooted and stepped on in the process of grazing. In an event of a farmer questioning them, they would use their guns to shoot and kill. Apart from damaging crops and allowing their animals to run wild on farmlands, the Fulani herdsmen were involved in serious violent crimes including rape, robbery, kidnapping and murder. Left in the absence of mutually accepted alternatives, such quarrels increasingly turned violent.

“The first attack of Fulani herdsmen on the people of Turan took place February 14, 2014 when the marauders accompanied by the Jukum youths of Taraba State took two villages (Kendev Mba-Ajekwe at Imande Dura and Maav at Anyiase) by surprise at night killing more than eleven persons in the planned attack.

“This marked the beginning of the crises between the Turan people and the Fulani herders in the area. The attacks gradually extended to Ugbe, Ambigbe, Mberev, Mbaav, Nzaav, Kendev-ya, Maav-ya, Ityuluv and Mbanev.

“There are six districts in Turan: Kumakwagh, Moon, Mbaikyor, Yaav, Mbadura, Barakuv and four districts: Kumakwagh, Moon, Yaav and Mbadura have been taken over and occupied by the Fulani herdsmen.

The incessant and lingering attacks by the invaders has claimed the lives of over 2,728 persons including women and children, more than 200,000 households have been destroyed and properties/farmlands worth over three trillion Naira have been destroyed by the Fulani herdsmen in Turan axis alone.

“The invaders have destroyed homes, schools, and places of worship, markets, clinics, hospitals, farmlands and farm products. The destruction of schools (both primary and secondary) has forced over 65,000 children out of school.

“The aftermath, repercussions, reverberations, and consequences of forcing children out of school is inimical and detrimental including loss of creativity and opportunities, and making them more vulnerable and at risk of violence such as bullying, rebelliousness, thuggery, arm robbery, prostitution, banditry and juvenile delinquency.”

He said since the crisis began in 2014, the Federal Government had failed to take sufficient steps to halt the killings by deploy serious security units “to the vulnerable areas; disarm and prosecute perpetrators of violence; and address issues concerning the displaced people in order to facilitate their going back to their ancestral homes.

“It is sad to note that over 200,000 households and people displaced have no access to farmlands as means of sustenance, no schools for their children to attend, no shelters for them to lay their heads,  no markets for commercial activities to enhance the economic and social well being of the people.

“It is more disheartening to know that while all these are happening, no effort has been made by the government of the day or members of the National Assembly representing the people to address their plights.

“Till today, four out of six districts in Turan area of Kwande LGA are being attacked on a weekly basis by well armed herdsmen and mercenaries numbering in hundreds. The deadlier planned attacks are spontaneous and provocative because the attacked people are armless and helpless civilians including women and children residing in such areas.

“From all ramifications, indications and implications, it suffices to conclude that the game plan of the alien Fulani herdsmen in Turan area of Kwande LGA is to destroy, annihilate and extinguish the entire people and take over, occupy and acquire their God’s given land and inheritance.”

“We are in pains, bereaved, totally in disagreement with this maltreatment, displacement, rapping, robbery, kidnapping, killing, maiming, and destruction of our people from their God’s given land for infiltrators and immigrants to occupy their ancestral home.

“We therefore strongly demand that federal government as a matter of urgency stop the killings of innocent souls and destruction of properties/farmlands and restore peace in the affected areas and bring the people back to their ancestral homes.

“The government should come to the aids of the displaced farmers, provide IDPs camps while restoring peace in the affected areas.

“We call on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other international organizations dealing with refugees and internally displaced persons including United Nations (UN) as well as well meaning Nigerians to come to the assistance of the affected people through the provision of amenities and relief materials.

“The Benue State government should initiate an immediate action against the National Boundary Commission on resolving the issues of boundary adjustment in the crisis area that exercises a good portion of Kwande land in Benue State to Taraba State so as to broker peace and bring back our ancestral land to the state.

Cattle rearing is strictly a business and should not be allowed to be transacted at the expense of other people’s lives and properties especially in their father’s land.

The Association of Kwande Academia frowns at our neighbours, the Jukun people of Taraba State for harboring criminals as this behaviour is injurious and tantamount to creating everlasting war between the two states.

“We therefore call on the commander of operation Whirl Stroke in Benue State to immediately intervene in the crisis in order to save the situation, bring the situation under control and prevent the invaders from taking over and occupying our land.

“We warn that in the event that these recommendations are not taken seriously, we shall be left with no option but to take a decisive action within the ambit of the law to salvage the ugly situation.”

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