By Lateef Adegbite
The era of armed herdsmen raiding villages in Benue, home state, of George Akume, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, kill ad go, with little or no resistance from security operatives, appears to be over.
This is evident going by the recent incident in Zaki Akpuna I and Diom, communities in Mbaterem district in the Ukum Local Government Area of the state where suspected armed herdsmen operating in the guise of Bandits and armed herdsmen had invaded the two villages on motorbikes and were shooting sporadically forcing the villagers to run for their dear life.
The armed herdsmen will not forget in a hurry what they went through in the hands of the police teams in collaboration with other security agencies personnel deployed to the Area to restore peace before the situation gets out of hand.
The security agencies personnel deployed to the Akpuna and Diom communities and its environs were said to have engaged the herdsmen in a rare show of courage that have never happened for the eight years of former Samuel Ortom’s Administration, forcing them to flee but were said to have fallen into the waiting hands of the military personnel at Tine Nune Community around the Zaki Biam-Wukari road who had had engage them in another gun battle .
The Channels Television had reported that eight of the herddsmen were killed in the gun battle and several others serious injured but the Vanguard had reported that 27 persons were killed in the Saturday, July 7 attack in the two Benue state communities. Cathrine Anene, a Superintendent and the Benue state Police Command, spokesperson was said to have confirmed the Channels Television account on the number of herdsmen killed in the two Benue state communities.
Many people believe that both for the quick intervention of the security agencies personnel in the Akpuna I and Diom communities to repel the armed herdsmen, the situation would have been worse as the suspected killer gang , armed o the teeth with sophisticated weapons were determined to wipe out the villages.
Recall that towards the tail end of former governor Orton’s Administration, he, had said that the armed herdsmen attacks had ravaged about 21 of the 23 Local Government Areas in the state and paralyzed their socio-economic activities over the last four years.
The former Benue state governor who could not hide his feelings had said that the Herders’ attacks in the state had claimed the lives of thousands Benue citizens, property and farmers crops worth billions of naira destroyed.
Worried by the continued herdsmen attack on Communities, Hyacinth Alia, the new governor of the state, and who is determined to contain the herdsmen excesses was said to have warned the unrepentant trouble makers ‘’to keep off Benue and’’ , stating that ‘’the anti-open grazing law being implemented by the previous Administration in the state is still in force.
The new Benue state governor had made Nigerians to understand that the decision to retain the ant-open grazing Law was part of the resolutions taken after the painstaking deliberations, at the state Security Council meeting on June 22, 2023, barely three days after assumption of office.
He was emphatic that the state security council has decided that ‘’ it would not repeal the anti-open grazing Law passed by the then state House Assembly for implementation in the state. The governor was said to have made it clear to those that cares to listen that ‘’the anti-open grazing Law has come to stay in the state’’.
The All Progressive Congress , APC, elected governor of Benue state was said to have urged the Law enforcement agents ‘’to show sincerity in the implementation and enforcement of the anti-open grazing Law, noting that ‘’no single or reactionary approach should be adopted on the prevention of attacks by the armed criminal herders’ gangs.
As a prelude to forestalling the activities of the armed herdsmen in the state, Alia was said to have inaugurated Al-Tershak Global Security Limited at the early stage of the Administration. Kula Tersoo, the Chief Press Secretary, CPS, to the governor had revealed that ‘’Tthe Sub-Committee of the state Commissioner of Police, Directors of State Security Services, DSS, Nigerian Immigration Services, NIS, Traditional Rulers, National Agency For The Prohibition of Trafficking of Persons,NAPTITP, Bureau For Local Government And Chieftaincy Affairs, BLGCA and the office of the Security Adviser that was also set up was headed by the Security Adviser to the governor.
The Sub-Committee on security was said to have been mandated ‘’to identify the heads of the Fulani herders in the state and report back to the council in three weeks, meaning that the report of the Committee should be should be submitted to the council on or before, July 20, 2023, for deliberations in their next meeting.
Security experts would want the Benue state Sub-Committee, on security to take a closer look at the claims by Senator Sani Yerima, a former governor of Zamfara, described as home of Bandits, in the north western geopolitical region, and who dubbed himself as the father of the state had said that ‘’poverty and ignorance and the takeover of the cattle routes and forest reserves by farmers are responsible for the growing case of banditry in Zamfara and other states of the Federation, in writing their report. The former Zamfara state governor had said that the government at the state and Federal levels had failed’ ’to address the plights of the herdsmen.
Senator Yerima’s statement, according security analysts sends a wrong signals to the Fulani herdsmen, in different parts of the Sahel region who over the years have been causing havoc in different parts of Nigeria, particular, Benue and Plateau, to reclaim the forest reserves in the two states believing that belongs to them as their cattle routes but taken over by farmers.
It was not surprising why the herders have continuously invaded the farming Communities in Benue and Plateau states other part parts of the country, basically to put fear in the Locals from going to their farms to harvest their crops which are destroyed by the herdsmen and their castles. The herdsmen attacks was said to be worse in the second term in office of former President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration.