From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
At least 16 persons were allegedly killed by suspected herdsmen at the weekend in Agagbe, Gwer West local government areas of Benue State.
However, Commander of Operation Whirl Stroke, OPWS Maj. Gen Adeyemi Yekini told newsmen that only seven corpses have been recovered by his men in what is supposedly a reprisal attack.
Sub-sector commander of OPWS in Gwer West local government area, Flying Officer Mohammed Abubakar said at 4:30 pm on Saturday, some of his reliable sources from Agagbe came to inform him that some men dressed in military uniform were sighted in Agagbe forest rustling cows and he quickly mobilized his men to the area and they sparked strike, adding they found three dead bodies which were later taken to a hospital in the area.
He also, said that they, “ embarked on a search as well as carried out the investigation and discovered that those behind the rustling of cows are members of the livestock guards.
“We later traced them to Ter Nagi’s Palace and discovered that 22 cattle there but he claimed that cattle belong to him even the coming of OPWS to the area.
“Thereafter, we made contact with the DPO who equally identified the rustlers as members of the Livestock Guard who disguised in military uniform to rustle cattle and butchered them for sale at the Naka market. As I speak with you, they are the selling the meat at the market. The DPO also, gave names of seven persons who are members if the Livestock Guard involved in the I cinema.
“Just thus afternoon, our men went on mop up patrol and discovered four additional dead bodies at the scene of the incident.”
Commenting on the incident, Maj. Gen. Yekini expressed regrets, noting that some unforeseen forces are deliberately trying to cause a state of chaos in the state.
He observed that the sad incident is happening one week to the governorship election as was the case in Agatu before the presidential election.
He assured that his men will continue to chase the armed herdsmen away from the state, but advised those who are fomenting trouble to desist from such act as the law will catch up with them.
The Ter Nagi, Chief Daniel Abomtse said there was heavy attack in some communities in his domain.
According to him, OPWS have been helpful to them but sometimes, troops of the operation will kill cows belonging to herdsmen and chase them away only for them to come in a reprisal attack on his subjects. “This happened in January 21st and a similar incident happened on Saturday,” he added.
He alleged that four out of seven districts in his domain have taken over by the herdsmen and appealed to federal government to deploy or station a military post at Agagbe to avert further attacks.
Chairman of Gwer West local government area, Francis Ayaga confirmed that 16 persons were killed by suspected herdsmen, adding that three communities were also attacked.