Daji Sani in Yola, George Okoh in Makurdi and Paul Obi in Abuja
About 20 persons yesterday lost their lives in a clash between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Gwamba village in Demsa Local Government Area of Adamawa State.
Reports from the affected area indicated that the herdsmen stormed Gwamba village at about 6:30p.m. on a reprisal attack following a previous attack lunched on them by the Bachama youths.
The report further explained that based on attacks lunched on some Bachama villages, their youths felt pained that no arrest was made.
This, it was gathered, made them to mobilise against Fulani settlements in Damsa Local Government Area.
In retaliation, the Fulani community yesterday launched another deadly attack on the Bachama villages
Another report said there was a truce between the herdsmen and the farmers which ended in a deadlock.
The development made the herdsmen to attack four villages and killed 20 persons.
The spokesman of the police command in Adamawa State, Othman Abubakar, who confirmed the attack, however, did not give the casualty figure, adding he was yet to be briefed on the attack
Meanwhile, despite warnings by Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State of imminent attacks on communities in his state, 5,000 residents of Chille Island, Mbatoho in Makurdi Local Government Area, were yesterday sacked by suspected herders of cattle.
Recounting the ordeal of the residents of the community who marched to the office of the deputy governor of the state, Mr. Benson Abouno, the leader of the community, Mr. John Terhemen alleged that the herdsmen stormed the area shooting sporadically into the air and ordered the residents to vacate their homes.
Terhemen said the herdsmen who were well armed with sophisticated weapons, ordered them to vacate their homes for them to occupy and graze their cattle.
“They did not harm anyone, nor did they burn down our homes. The herdsmen simply asked us to leave,” he said.
Responding, the deputy governor told the residents that the state government also got the report of the invasion of Chille Island by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
Abounu who said the government was trying to determine the veracity of the story, added that he had directed the new Special Adviser on Security Lt. Col. Paul Hemba (rtd.) to visit the area and determine the next line of action.
“The people said the Fulani herdsmen have sacked them, and it is just across the river in Makurdi town. But I have sent the Special Adviser on Security to go there and determine the authenticity of the story. Until that is done, then we will know the next action to take,” Abounu said.
When contacted, the state Commissioner of Police Taiwo Awoseni said he was informed of the attack but was yet to verify it.
“We have received a report on the attack,” Awoseni said to pressmen on the phone.
He added that the police swung into action to investigate the crisis.
In a related development, the Benue State Government has stated that an alleged member of the Benue Livestock Guards who was arrested in Ukum Local Government Area by the military for cattle rustling and gun running is not a member of the guards.
A statement issued yesterday by the Commander of the Benue Livestock Guards, Alhaji Aliyu Tershaku said the attention of the Benue State Livestock Guards had been drawn to a publication yesterday wherein the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 707 Special Forces Brigade, Major Olabisi Ayeni alleged that a member of the Benue State Livestock Guards had been arrested in Ukum Local Government Area by “Exercise Cat Race” for cattle rustling and gun running.
“We wish to state categorically that the Benue State Government established the Livestock Guards but does not arm them. The arrested suspect is not a member of the State Livestock Guards. It is therefore misleading to insinuate that a member of the organisation has been caught with arms.”
Tershaku said the guards of the state do not carry weapons and their role was to help conventional security agencies in the implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017.
“We, therefore, find the statement credited to Major Ayeni as a fabrication and deliberate attempt to find a reason to blame the Benue State Government for sponsoring militia.
“We also wish to make it clear that members of the Benue State Livestock Guards do not engage in any form of cattle rustling. Instead, the Livestock Guards, since the establishment of the organisation, have contributed greatly in preventing cases of cattle rustling in different parts of the state, in accordance with Section 20 of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of Benue State,” he stated.
The commandant urged the public to disregard the allegation in its entirety, alleging that it was part of a conspiracy to “give a dog a bad name in order to hang it”.
Despite the pushback from the state government over the arrest of the alleged imposter of the Livestock Guards, the Nigerian Army said yesterday that it arrested suspected herdsmen destroying farmlands in Benue State.
The Director of Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Texas Chukwu stated that the efforts of the army to fish out criminals and protect farmlands in Benue State and its environs under the ongoing “Exercise Ayem Akpatuma” was yielding results.
He noted that troops of Sector 1 Sub-Sector A, deployed at Yelwata while on routine patrol, arrested 10 herdsmen destroying farmlands at Tse-Tigir and Tse-Ndugh villages on Monday.
“While in the act of destroying the farmlands, the herdsmen sighted the aggressive troops and fled into the bush. The determine troops pursued and arrested them.
“Items recovered included five motorcycles, two machetes, some assorted charms and the sum of N120,000. The suspects and items were handed over to the Nigerian Police for further necessary action.
“The Nigerian Army is determined to fish out criminals and recover weapons used in killing innocent citizens. Therefore the public is please requested to cooperate and support the Army in the ongoing exercise,” Chukwu said.