Armed militia kills 45 in Benue!

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*No fewer than 45 persons including family of 7 killed by suspected militia

*30 persons were wounded during the attack while many are still missing

*The Tiv militia group known as Full Fire is said to be working in concert with herdsmen

*As residents appeal for fortified military presence in Benue, Taraba borders

By Sunday Ogli, Makurdi

No fewer than 45 persons, including a family of seven, have been reportedly killed following the invasion of Gbagir community in Ukum Local Government Area, LGA, of Benue State, by suspected armed Fulani militia supported by local Tiv bandits who are fighting to oust another Tiv militia gang in the area.

The Tiv militia groups are said to be Full Fire and Chain. Full Fire is said to be working in concert with herdsmen and some Jukun militia to oust Chain.

It was gathered that most of the dead were members of one of the rival militia gangs while about 12 innocent farmers were caught in the cross fire which also left over 30 persons injured and many others declared missing.

A traditional ruler in the area who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the bloody fight which started Tuesday morning after a Tiv militia leader in Ukum LGA, kidnapped another Fulani militia leader, one Alhaji Gana and his family members, who were known for banditry and kidnappings, from neighbouring Chinkai community in Wukari LGA of Taraba State.

He said after kidnapping them, he demanded for N100million ransom but was given N5million. After collecting N5million, he killed the hostages.

The traditional ruler said the killing of the hostages at the weekend sparked outrage among his gang members in Taraba State.

His words: “What followed was that another militia gang leader in Ukum now went and joined forces with the Fulani militia gang in Taraba to help them eliminate the rival gang in Ukum that killed their leader, Alhaji Gana.

“The essence was to enable him to be the head of militia in Ukum. The combined forces of Fulani and Tiv militia gangs started moving into the bushes of Gbagir in their hundreds from Sunday to sack the gang that killed Alhaji Gana. And on Tuesday morning the bloody fight ensued.

“From what we gathered, over 45 persons who were mainly bandits have been killed, though we have records of about 12 farmers who were caught in the crossfire. Over 30 others were injured while some are also missing.

“Sadly caught in the cross fire was a family of seven in Tse Adzandeh Mbasaa, Mbajiga, Ityuluv, Torov. They were all members of the Adzandeh family.

“The armed men have also spread to the bushes of Gbeji, Chito and Afia in their numbers but cannot move into the residential area because of the timely intervention of troops of Operation Whirl Stroke, OPWS.

“In fact, when people noticed the movement of the armed Fulani militia into Benue communities, the Chiefs informed the political leaders who immediately briefed Governor Hyacinth Alia who equally alerted the military for swift action.

“It was this timely response of the Governor to the intel and the intervention of the OPWS that saved the people of Ukum LGA because we gathered that they planned to kill hundreds of people in Ukum as revenge for the murdered Fulani militia leader but it is their gang war and innocent residents have nothing to do with that.

“Over 1,000 of them have laid siege on Ukum LGA as we speak. That is why we are appealing to the military to save us before they wipe out our innocent families.

“We need more security posts in and around the area and we also appeal to the Governors of Benue and Taraba States to team up and put an end to the activities of these cross border criminals. They should support the military with logistics also.”

“As we speak, these people are still in the bushes in Ukum, they have not moved back to Taraba. The Fulani militia is being supported by a Tiv militia group to eliminate another Tiv militia gang and as they fight the innocent locals will be killed.

“There is urgent need to protect the other three villages because we are hearing that the first phase of the attack is in Gbagir while Chito, Gbeji and Afia might be next.”

“We are also appealing for fortified military presence in all the Benue and Taraba border communities.”

End

NASS leadership to meet Tinubu over rising cases of killings nationwide

By Olugbenga Salami

Following the killing of over 50 people in fresh attacks on some communities in Benue State by suspected terrorists and the rising insecurity across the country, the Senate on Wednesday reached a resolution asking the leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly to urgently seek audience with President Bola Tinubu to find lasting solutions to the security challenges facing the country.

This was even as the Red Chamber urged the Service Chiefs and heads of other security agencies to as a matter of urgency, deploy security personnel to address the continuing and ongoing attacks by armed terrorist parading as herdsmen on communities in Kwande, Ukum, Logo and Katsina-Ala Local Government Areas of Benue State with a view to flushing them out and restore normalcy to the affected communities, and invest in surveillance technology and equipment to detect and prevent future attacks.

The proposed meeting with the President, and other resolutions which are coming after earlier one by the Red Chamber, is to intimate him with the reports of security summits in the 8th and 9th Assemblies as well as the far -reaching resolutions of its recent engagements with the security chiefs.

The resolutions followed a motion brought under matters of urgent public importance pursuant to Orders 41 and 51 of the Senate Standing Orders 2023 (as amended) by Senator Emmanuel Udende (APC Benue North East) following the fresh attacks on the Benue communities.

Leading debate on the motion, Senator Udende lamented that no fewer than 50 persons have been killed in fresh attacks in the affected communities, adding that as at Tuesday, March 5 those attacked include Tyuluv, Borikyo, Kundav, Ugbaam, Uyam, Udedeku, Yaaiwa, Nyihemba, Tomatar , Menakwagh, Yiase and Agura, all in the Benue North East Senatorial district of the state.

According to him, “the residents of the villages and communities now find themselves targeted on a daily basis by heavily armed terrorist herdsmen, and the toll continues to be staggering as they bear the brunt, with reports of marauders butchering several villagers, leaving many homes completely burnt down and numerous residents still missing while the perpetrators, however, remain elusive and have not been apprehended.”