The commander, Operation Whirl Stroke, Maj. Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, has confirmed the killing of farmers in Agatu Local Council Area of Benue State by armed bandits suspected to be herdsmen in the early hours of Wednesday, February 20, 2019.
Although Gen. Yekini said the casualty figures were yet to be ascertained, as at the time of this report, some residents of Agatu told Channels Television that the number of people killed was seven.
In a statement, Gen. Yekini said, “I received a report this afternoon that some people were killed in Agatu by suspected armed bandits. I’m not sure of the number of casualties yet but I don’t think it’s up to 16.”
He explained further, “We have sent a patrol team to the general area where the incident happened. The location where it happened, although is in Benue, can better be accessed through Loko in Nasarawa State. We are already sending a patrol team there to verify what really happened.”
When contacted by Channels Television, the commissioner of police in the state, Mr Omololu Bishi, said he was yet to receive a briefing on the matter from his men in the field.
But the chief press secretary to the governor, Mr Terver Akase, told journalists that the state governor, Samuel Ortom, met with the commissioner of police who confirmed the attack to the government.
Mr Akase said, “We feel that this is unfortunate because the governor had raised an alarm that some persons for political reason are planning to unleash armed herdsmen on innocent Benue people to create fear in the people for political gains.
He said the government of Benue State had condemned the latest attack and had asked security agencies to immediately move in to forestall further attacks on the people of Benue, adding “We cannot afford to have another round of killings as we had in 2018.”
In January 2018, over 70 people were killed in Guma Local Government Area, the first in the series of attacks on several communities there, resulting in thousands of people being displaced from their ancestral homes, with most of them ending up in internally displaced peoples camps in the state capital, Makurdi.