Armed attackers believed to be herdsmen raided a farming community in Nigeria’s north-central Benue State and killed at least 46 people.
The gunmen invaded Umogidi village of Entekpa-Adoka District in Otukpo Local Government Area (LGA) in Benue State and killed the farmers, including the 33-year-old son of Otukpo LGA Chairman Bako Eje.
The attack came barely 24 hours after the same village, an Idoma-speaking community, suffered an attack by suspected herdsmen who killed three people.
An eyewitness Joseph Adakole on Wednesday said the community was burying the three people earlier killed when the attackers suddenly resurfaced with more gunfire at around 4 pm.
Eje, whose son was also killed in the attack, told a local TV station that the armed herdsmen surrounded the villagers and opened gunfire. He also confirmed that after burying the victims, many people were still missing.
Benue governor’s special adviser on security matters Lt Col Paul Hemba also confirmed the attack.
"The casualties from those seen physically are said to be 46. But the figures may be higher because some people have been reported to be missing,” Hemba said.
“Police have been deployed and soldiers have also been sent to assist. The situation is now calm,” he said.
Macban distances itself
The umbrella body of the herders, Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (Macban), distanced itself from the attack.
Macban’s Benue State Secretary Ibrahim Galma denied knowing the attack perpetrators.
"The herders who are there are not cooperating with us. We don’t even know where they are coming from,” he said.
He explained that they have been hearing of attacks being carried out by herdsmen in the villages of Adoka, Apa and the Agatu but they can’t identify where they are coming from.
"It’s very difficult for us to call them to order because we don’t know whom they are,” Galma added.
The conflict between Nigerian farmers and herders has been going on for many years. The herders, majority of whom are Fulani people, are seen as land grabbers who also use people's farms to graze their animals especially cows.