Over 500 killed in Agatu “genocide” — Ex-Senate President David Mark

Displaced women of Agatu in Och'Idoma's palace shortly before they were evicted

The immediate past president of the Senate, David Mark, has described as barbaric, wicked and inhuman the attacks and destruction of lives and properties in Agatu local government area of Benue state by armed men suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.

He said: “I’m shocked beyond words at the extent of destruction I have seen here in Agatu today. This is unbelievable. It is unimaginable . Nothing whatsoever justifies this brazen act of destruction meted out on the people of Agatu. My heart bleeds.”

Mr. Mark, who represents the area, and was on assessment tour of the ravaged communities along with some members of the National and state Assembly from his Benue South constituency, urged security operatives to do all that is needed to bring the perpetrators to book.

Mr. Mark said the attacks could not have happened by accident. He said it bore the markings of a planned and orchestrated genocide against his people of Agatu.

Ten communities were razed down while no fewer than 500 lives have been lost to the recent hostilities, Mr. Mark’s office said in a statement.

It said some of the villages visited by the former senate president and his team had been deserted and virtually turned into ghost towns.

“The villages are totally bereft of any social or economic activities. All the primary and post primary schools, health centres , worship centres as well as the police station in the area have been burnt down.

“What is left of a hitherto boisterous Agatu communities of Aila, Akwu, Adagbo, Okokolo, Ugboju, Odugbeho, Ogbaulu, Egba and Obagaji are the debris of the wreckage,” the statement said.

Mr. Mark however told a handful of survivors of the attacks to remain calm and law-abiding no matter the level of provocation just as he assured that the government would intervene to bring succour to them.

Mr. Mark advised the people to take advantage of the proposed public hearing by the joint Senate committee on the crisis to bring the matter to public domain and seek redress.

Last week, Mr. Mark through a community leader and former commissioner in Benue state, John Ngbede, distributed relief materials to the survivors .

Items distributed included mattresses, bags of rice, salt, indomie noodles, clothes as well as toiletries.

Mr. Mark also visited one of the Internally Displaced Persons ( IDP) camps located in Apa local government area where he counselled the victims to remain calm as authorities would do the needful to ameliorate their situation .

Some of the survivors and community leaders including Haruna Bawa from Odugbeho, Yakubu Ameh from Adagbo, Stephen Mathew from Aila and Aduba Abraham from Okokolo in their separate remarks alleged that the Fulani herdsmen invaded their communities shooting and killing every thing on sight .

They pleaded with the state and federal governments to intervene and help rebuild the wrecked villages and rehabilitate the survivors.

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