At Adaka community, on the outskirts of Makurdi, the capital of Benue state, three people were brutally murdered this past weekend in farmland by suspected armed Fulani herders.
Two months before, similar separate attacks in the state’s Gbeji and Ukohol communities, located in the Ukum and Guma Local government areas, left at least 60 people killed, including two security personnel.
According to a local source who went on the record under the condition of anonymity, the armed men had been grazing their cattle on local residents’ rice farms over time.
He said, “For some time now, Fulani herdsmen have been bringing their cattle into the rice farms in the community.”
“The development forced one of the farm owners who obviously lost millions of Naira to the cattle invasion to kill some of the cattle while they were devouring his rice farm.”
“This must have triggered the action of the armed herdsmen who staged a reprisal, killing three persons as if they were animals.”
“They are destroying our farms that are our sources of livelihood and if you complain they kill you. Most of us borrowed huge funds to cultivate the farms and they allow their cows to destroy everything. The people are just on a mission to displace our people and maybe take over our land before the 2023 elections.”
“It is unfortunate that some politicians in our state are collaborating with these monstrous terrorists to unleash mayhem on our people. We will reject such persons at the polls,” he said.
The victims were two rice farmers and a land owner who had gone out to inspect a farmland on Friday but never returned, according to Lt. Col. Paul Hemba, the Special Adviser to the Governor of Benue State on Security Matters, who confirmed the incident.
He said: “the community raised the alarm, they alerted me. I got in touch with security personnel patrolling the area. But they said they did not have information on any missing persons.”
“Since it was night already, we waited till Saturday morning, when we sent out patrols including members of the community, and in the course of the patrol we discovered the corpses of the missing three persons who were brutally killed obviously with machetes.”
“And the community is suspecting that Fulani herdsmen murdered the victims as a reprisal.”
“This is because the herdsmen have been operating in their vicinity. Additionally just last week, the Fulani herdsmen alleged that some of their cows which invaded the peoples’ rice farms were killed in that community. The Police Commissioner is investigating the incident.”
“The people said they killed the cattle because they invaded their rice farm. And these farms are usually cultivated with huge loans which must be paid back after harvest.”
“From the pictures we have, you can see that the animals that were killed were grazing freely on a large rice farm.”
“These are some of the terrible things farmers have been noticing, herders, will push their cows into people’s yam, cassava, and rice farms and watch them destroy and graze on them after which they walk away.”
“It’s so painful that you will tend to your farm today and when you get there the next day it is all eaten up by cows.”
“So it is suspected that out of frustration and pain somebody who saw this happening to his rice farm did that to the animals.”
Contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Superintendent, Catherine Anene, who confirmed the incident said she was yet to receive details.