Benue State government yesterday condemned the unprovoked attack on Odugbeho community of Agatu Local Government Area by armed Fulani herdsmen. In the attack, more than 32 people were killed while 10 others were wounded. Governor Samuel Ortom, spoke through his Deputy, Benson Abounu (an engineer), after a tour of the gravesites in Odugbeho. The governor, who expressed shock at the unprovoked attack on the peaceful Odugbeho, said the people had the right to defend themselves against further attacks. He condemned the continuous unprovoked attacks and killings of the people in their ancestral homes by armed Fulani herdsmen, calling it unacceptable to the government and people of the state. Ortom called on the people to be vigilant and to protect and defend themselves, if attacked.
Though the governor charged the people not to take the laws into their hands, he said they had every right to defend themselves and not to allow themselves to be killed by the armed Fulani herdsmen. The governor, who stressed the need for unity, progress and peaceful coexistence in Nigeria, reiterated his earlier call on prominent and influential Nigerians, particularly of the Fulani ethnic stock, to speak up and call on the Fulani marauders to end the unwarranted and unnecessary bloodshed in the country.
Ortom, who directed the Security Adviser to facilitate the deployment of soldiers to the community to enable their women and children return home, expressed appreciation to the security agencies for their efforts in combating the armed Fulani herdsmen. Mr. Christopher Onu, who led the deputy governor on the tour at the gravesites, thanked him and Governor Ortom for the prompt visit to Odugbeho and for their expression of sympathy. He said the visit had given his community hope and courage.
According to him, the people now know that they have a government which truly identifies with their plights. Onu narrated their experience with the herders, whom they accused of setting fire to their farm crops and seedlings on several occasions, and how their attempts to peacefully settle their differences by lodging complaints at the Divisional Police Headquarters at Obagaji had been rewarded with the surprise attack on his people. He appealed to the governor to provide them with security in Odugbeho to enable their women and children to return home to commence planting in the year’s farming season.