From Scholastica Onyeka, Makurdi

Five persons have been confirmed dead with one missing in Agatu and Otukpo Local Government Areas of Benue state after armed men suspected to be herdsmen militia attacked some communities.

Our correspondent gathered that the five persons were killed in two separate attacks on Thursday, 23rd March 2023 while many others were injured.

A source from Agatu said herdsmen attacked Atakpa community and killed four persons while the fifth person was killed in Otukpo LGA.

The source who didn’t want to be named told newsmen on phone that “Atakpa and Ogbaulu are under heavy attack by herdsmen presently. Four persons have been killed and several women were raped.

Another source stated that herders attacked farmers in Iwili community of Otukpo LGA on Wednesday, 22 March and killed one person.

When contacted the Benue State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, SP Catherine Anene confirmed the killings saying the details of the incidents have not been sent to her yet.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Agatu LGA, Mr Joseph Ngbede confirmed the incident saying “There was an attack by herders yesterday. It was a random shooting at Atakpa to be precise by 5pm on Thursday and their mission was unknown to us.

“It was unexpected, the last time we checked, we don’t believe that Atakpa has any issue with them. The youth leader from Atakpa is missing, four people have been killed and many have been injured in the attack. The police is still searching.”

He said there is a threat to Ogbaulu near Atakpa, the village has never been attack but there is a threat that they are coming,” he said.

As at the time of filing this report, community members said there are palpable fear in the whole of Agatu LGA as most community members have deserted their homes while others are still on the run.

Immediate past Secretary of Agatu Council, Sunday Oteyi, said “The village, Atakpa, is close to mine, Oshigbugdu. We even expect that they are coming to my place.”

The immediate past Vice Chairman of Agatu LGA, John Ikwulono, who called for security beef up around the communities said those in the hospital also need urgent attention.

“At the moment, the situation is a bit calm but people are still scampering for safety. The place is deserted at the moment and for fear of further attacks, the people of Atakpa community have deserted their homes.”

Wondering why the people would be attacked without provocation, Ikwulono explained that earlier on Thursday “the herdsmen herded their cattle into the farm and were destroying crops when the youths of that area came and stopped them.

According to him, “when the herders left, they mobilized and came back in the evening and attacked the people while they were trying to take their rest.”

“If we say we need security men, its an understatement. The presence of the military will go a long way in solving some of these problems. Those who genuinely want to save lives can be posted to these affected areas to put an end to this lingering crisis,” appealed.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, (MACBAN), in Benue state, Ibrahim Galma, said he was just informed of the Agatu attack and his association were meeting over the incident.

Galma who confirmed that they don’t have problem with the Agatu people said “We are still in meeting as we speak over the crisis there. I just heard of the Agatu and Otukpo issue and I’m trying to find out what went wrong.”