Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has accused the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, a group of Fulani cattle breeders in the country, for the strings of killings in the state.
Mr. Ortom said he had informed President Muhammadu Buhari of the group’s role in the killing of dozens of people over the last one week, and had disclosed the location of the attackers.
He spoke Tuesday after a meeting with the president in Abuja.
“I had to brief him, he is also doing further investigation to know the next line of action. I believe that my request that the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, who had earlier threatened and I accused them directly, since June last year, I have been writing to the leadership of security agencies, that these people are a threat to our collective interest and they must be dealt with,” the governor told journalists after the meeting.
“They must be arrested and prosecuted because we cannot allow impunity to continue to thrive. And of course threat and no action has resulted in this killing and I think that Mr. President will also do the needful to ensure something is done.”
His comments come amidst reports of continued attacks in the state. On Monday, two policemen were killed by herdsmen who had earlier exchanged gunfire with the police, Mr. Ortom said.
He said the officers were “slaughtered like goats” in Logo local government area, one of two areas at the centre of the crisis, while another officer was left badly injured.
“And it is taking a different dimension. Just yesterday (Monday) in Logo local government, mobile policemen that were deployed to Logo to keep vigil to protect the people and the land; these militia came, exchanged fire with them, caught two of them and slaughtered them like goats — mobile policemen!” he said.
“They shot another one, ‘machete’ him and left him in the pool of his blood but luckily he did not die. We have taken him to the hospital, we are treating him, the other one that was declared missing was found today (Tuesday).”
President Buhari, who has faced criticisms for his handling of previous attacks, has appeared more forceful in the past week, mandating heads of security agencies to curtail the violence and directing the police Inspector General, Ibrahim Idris, to relocate to Benue.
A police statement said Mr. Idris is moving with additional five units of mobile police force making a total of 10 units deployed to the state.
Mr. Ortom insisted the identities and locations of the attacker are well known, saying they should be prosecuted.
“And since we started the implementation (of the state’s anti-open grazing law) there has been relative peace amongst farmers and herdsmen; they were doing well until this militia coming from this Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore came and attacked us,” he said.
“And they are known, we know where they are. As I talk to you they are in Tongua in Awe local government; that is where these people are camped and coming to attack people.”