President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State over the reported killings, injury of several persons and wanton destruction of property in Guma and Logo Local Government Areas of the state in the New Year.
Mr. Ortom said on Tuesday that armed herdsmen killed over 20 and injured over 30 in Benue between Monday and Tuesday in Guma and Logo local government areas. He disclosed this while addressing journalists in Makurdi after the State Council Security Meeting.
He said that out of the number, nine were Livestock Guards who were to ensure the full implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing Law which was signed on November 1, 2017.
Mr. Ortom called on the federal government to wade into the matter so as to avert further destruction of lives and property.
The police later said on Wednesday that 17 people were killed and that eight herdsmen suspected to be among the killers had been arrested.
On Wednesday, hundreds of Benue youth protested the killings, blocking the major entry points into the state. They called for presidential intervention to forestall future attacks.
In his reaction, Mr. Buhari, while expressing sadness at the “wicked and callous” attacks, assured the governor and people of the state that relevant security agencies have been directed to do everything possible to arrest those behind the regrettable incidents and avert further attacks.
“This is one attack too many, and everything must be done to provide security for the people in our rural communities,” he said.
Mr. Buhari also commiserated with families of the victims and wished the injured speedy healing.
Benue suffered about 20 such attacks in 2017 leading to scores of deaths. The latest attack is the first in 2018.
Attacks and counter attacks by migrant herdsmen on farming Benue communities led the state government to put the anti-open grazing law in place. The law bans open grazing in all Benue communities.