From Abel Leonard,Lafia

Dr. Godwin Yohanna Abrak, President, Association of Resident Doctors, Barau Diko Teaching Hospital, Kaduna State, started off as an operator of commercial motorcycle otherwise known as “Okada.” He had to battle his way through thick and thin to become a medical doctor.

Anxiety and grief have enveloped Doma Local Government, Nasarawa State, following an airstrike that killed scores of herders and destroyed their cows on January 27, 2023, in Rukubi.  The incident has pushed the herders to the edge, causing many to flee to safety.

Sixty-year-old Alfa Bello Musa is one of the survivors. He came off the blast, but lost nine of his children, his cattle and belongings:

“All I had got in my struggle in life is no more. I am empty, no children no means of livelihood. Everything is gone in one day. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, in fact, I am no longer alive.”

He said he had gone to pay a fine of N6 million to reclaim his cattle from the Benue State Livestock Guards for violating the Open Grazing Law. He said the airstrike occurred just as they were offloading the animals from the truck, killing his nine children, 15 drivers, some helpers who joined them to offload the cattle and the cattle.

Another, Mallam Haruna, claimed he counted more than 54 lifeless bodies, including those of four of his brothers: “Some of the people who died in the attack were butchers who were invited to slaughter the cows that were sick while in detention to reduce losses.”

Usman Bawa was admitted at Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital, Lafia:

“The attack was unprovoked as there was no reason for it.” He had multiple injuries but remained thankful to God for saving his life.

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Another victim, Mallam Adamu Abdullahi, said he lost three of his friends who were in his company to receive his cows: “I escaped with a broken arm and deep cuts on my stomach and other parts of the body.”

Police Public Relations Officer, Ramhan Nansel, said the incident was unfortunate but added that security personnel had been deployed to the area to forestall reprisal and build confidence in the area. He said the state government convened a peace meeting:

“We decided to invite the national leaders of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore. Its national chairman, Abdullahi Bello Bodejo came along with some of the other Ardos. About 200 other leaders of the Fulani community from Nasarawa State and part of Benue State attended the meeting.”

Bodejo confirmed: “We condole with the governor over the killings of Fulani. The governor is taking everybody along in his efforts to bring about lasting peace. He has been able to convince his Benue State counterpart to release all our cattle held in their custody.

“We have agreed to follow him and to support him in his efforts to resolve the issue. We also agreed to meet with security chiefs in Abuja so that we can give them a first hand picture of the incident, towards finding lasting peace.”

However, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, absolved himself and his administration of complicity in the airstrike. He explained that he enquired from the military on what really led to the massacre in Rukubi, but was yet to get any answer.

But there was still fear that the Fulani planned to launch a reprisal on the Tiv in the nearest future. President, Tiv Development Association (TDA), Peter Ahemba, alleged that some herders were planning to attack some Tiv communities in the southern part of the state, especially around the area where the airstrike took place.

He added that intelligence reports indicated that heavily armed herders were being mobilised to launch deadly attacks on Tiv settlements, in Kokona and Nasarawa local government areas: “Scores of our people have so far been massacred by armed herders in the last few days and thousands are displaced from across Doma, Keana and Obi Local Government Councils.

“Chabo village has completely been reduced to ashes. A deadly attack was launched on Ajo village in Keana LGA, just as the entire Tiv population in Doma has been displaced in addition to the fact that many others, trapped in remote villages, are being killed silently.”