Insecurity: 63 killed in fresh Benue, Kaduna, Rivers, Delta attacks

Outrage over killings as #BenueUnderAttack trends
Three policemen killed in attack on Delta station 
Seven suspected IPOB ESN members killed in Rivers
Scores killed by bandits in Niger community 
Gunmen attack Police headquarters in Kwara 
Amnesty slams govt for failing to secure lives 
National Day of Mourning: CSOs protest in Abuja, condemn killings across Nigeria

 

 

By Uja Emmanuel, Makurdi; AbdulGafar Alabelewe, Kaduna; Alao Abiodun; Mike Odiegwu, Port Harcourt

 

Renewed violence has claimed at least 63 lives in four states -Benue, Rivers, Delta, Kaduna – in the last 48 hours, according to tallies from across the country.

The figure excludes the scores said to have been killed by bandits in some communities in Wushishi Local Government Area of Niger State yesterday.

Additional casualties were also averted after policemen repelled an attack on the Kwara State Police Command headquarters in Ilorin yesterday by suspected cultists.

The spate of killings sparked another round of protests called National Day of Mourning in major cities yesterday by civil society organisations.

The protesters,including the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said over 4, 500 Nigerians  were killed in 2020 alone.

They feared the situation could be worse this year.

They said in a petition to the Lagos State House of Assembly that the federal and state governments must take decisive actions to end the extrajudicial and violent killings across the country.

Amnesty International accused the federal government of not taking adequate measures to protect its citizens; a situation it said is emboldening perpetrators of injustice.

Killed in the latest wave of violence were 36 villagers in Michihe, Katsina-Ala Local Government Area of Benue State on Thursday night; seven persons on Makurdi-Naka-Ankpa Road also in Benue State on the same day (Thursday evening);10 people during an attack and counter-attack at two villages in Giwa Local Government Area of Kaduna State yesterday; seven suspected members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) on Thursday evening when a joint security team raided the group’s camp located in a forest between Oyigbo and Eleme local government areas of Rivers State; and three policemen by bandits who attacked the Umutu Police Station in Ukwuani Local Government Area of Delta State.

Thousands of Nigerians have taken to social media to condemn the situation in Benue State in particular, deploring alleged lack of action from the federal authorities to stop the killings.

Twitter users created the hashtag #BenueUnderAttack to draw attention to the killings,

By 7.40pm yesterday, the hashtag had generated over 123,000 tweets.

It was gathered that suspected herders invaded Michihe ward in Katsina Ala Local Government Area on Thursday night unleashing terror, particularly on residents of Utange, Yoyo and Michihe.

Thirty-six bodies of the victims were said to have been recovered.

Some others were still missing at press time.

Photographs purported to be those of the victims were all over the internet yesterday, but the police in the state denied any killings.

They said their personnel sent to the areas found no corpses or graves.

Governor Samuel Ortom had declared at the weekend that he would “no longer announce the deaths of those killed by herdsmen.”

But he told the people: “Rise up and defend yourselves with weapons not prohibited by law- bows and arrows, spears, knives, and similar ones.”

The late gangster Terwase Akwaza a.k.a. Gana and his men operated from Mbayongo until his death.

Remnants of his followers have continued to carry out attacks on villages, burning houses and killing hapless farmers in the area.

However, events took a different dimension last week as suspected herdsmen allegedly crossed from neighbouring Takum, Taraba State to Katsina Ala Local Government Area and killed many Tiv farmers.

 

But spokesperson for the state police command, Anene Sewuese Catherine, said the reports of fresh killings in the area were not true.

Her words: “On 28th May, 2021 at about 0080hrs, police teams were deployed to villages in Michihe Council ward, Kastina-Ala Local Government Area, to ascertain the authenticity of the news going viral on social media about thirty six (36) corpses recovered at a scene.

“Upon arrival at the Council ward, the detectives observed that there were no corpses or graves to signify any form of burial and no official reports have been made to the police in the area.

“More police operatives have been deployed to the area for routine patrols and surveillance.

“Members of the public are advised to desist from rumour mongering and hate speeches that create unnecessary tension within the state.

“Media practitioners are also advised to ensure that they practice investigative journalism to ensure accurate and balanced  reporting as this will help the police to channel limited resources to the right places at the right time.”

Reacting to the reported killings, an ex-aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri, posited that “except Benue gets their own Sunday Igboho, these almost daily attacks that have characterised #BenueUnderAttack will continue to happen. If Benue people clash with cows, General @MBuhari will ALWAYS side with cows. Benue needs an Igboho that will side with them #TableShaker”

Co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement, Aisha Yesufu, said: “The lives of Benue people must be protected. No Nigerian is more Nigerian than any Nigerian. #BenueUnderAttack”

Nollywood Actress, Kate Henshaw, lamented that “Much as I am trying to focus on other things, the images of bodies lain on the floor in huge numbers has dampened my spirit somewhat.. Why does life mean nothing in Nigeria? To our rulers?? Too much bloodshed….too much #BenueUnderAttack”

Another commentator, FS Yusuf, said: “Ortom needs to know that terrorists have opened a war on his people and he has to prepare his people to fight and protect themselves. Make we forget all the English wey we dey speak here. All of us dey mad! They are killing innocent Christians in Benue State #BenueUnderAttack”

“We can’t fold our hands and watch anymore. #BenueUnderAttack. People are being killed in their homes and lands and the government is watching. This is a ticking time bomb. Protect all Nigerian citizens!” Aproko Doctor said, while @JajaPhD said: “The pictures are so gory. It is sad that these vulnerable were killed in their homeland by invaders. But to see how they were butchered like cattle evokes a deeper emotion. No one should die like this.”

Gunmen kill another seven in Benue

On the same Thursday night, gunmen killed seven other persons on the Makurdi-Naka-Ankpa in Benue State.

Fifteen others were wounded and scores stranded on the highway.

The victims were said to be travellers who were attacked in their private cars or commercial vehicles at Kula village, about seven kilometres from Makurdi.

Time was about 5.30pm.

Soldiers were later drafted to the scene to clear the road for commuters.

The Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO) Kate Anene, a deputy superintendent of police (DSP), confirmed the attack yesterday, saying that investigation was in progress to fish out the perpetrators.

Suspected herdsmen have carried out more than 40 attacks, killing over 40 persons on the Makurdi-Naka Road over the last two months.

10 killed in fresh attacks in Kaduna

The Kaduna State Government yesterday confirmed the killing of at least 10 persons by bandits during an attack and counter-attacks on two villages in Giwa Local Government Area of the state.

Internal Security and Home Affairs Commissioner Samuel Aruwan said the gunmen invaded Na’ikko village in Giwa LGA and engaged the community volunteers in a gun duel which led to the death of three residents.

He named the victims as Alhaji Shafiu, Alhaji Balailu Sano and Abdulsamad Hussaini.

He said that youths of Na’ikko, in reaction, attacked a nearby Fulani settlement, Rugan Abdulmuminu, and killed two persons whom they alleged were involved in the initial attack. These were identified as Abdulmuminu Agwai and Samaila Agwai.

The commissioner said in a separate incident, armed bandits invaded Dakyauro village, Sabon Birni, Igabi LGA and killed four persons after rustling about 25 cows. The four persons killed were listed as Musbahu Yusuf,  Basiru Jaafaru, Ja’afaru Yahaya and Umaru Sulaiman.

“Two persons were injured in the attack: Anas Ibrahim and Aisha Abbas.”

Similarly, Aruwan said a community leader, Dauda Adamu, was killed by bandits at Ungwan Ayaba in Chikun LGA.

“Armed bandits also invaded farmlands on the outskirts of Gigani village, Kerawa, Igabi LGA and rustled about 14 bulls being used by farmers to plough the land,” he said.

He said Governor Nasir El-Rufai sent condolences to the bereaved families and assured farmers in the Giwa, Igabi, Birnin Gwari, Kajuru and Chikun LGAs of the government’s awareness of their plight, and is taking active steps towards ensuring that they would continue to pursue their livelihoods in safety.

Government also warned private schools operating in high-risk areas to adhere to the security advisories issued to them, noting that some schools have continued to operate outside guidelines presented to them by the security agencies for the safety of their students and staff.

Seven ESN members killed ahead of attack on police station

A joint security team took the battle to the camp of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) located in a forest between Oyigbo and Eleme local government areas of Rivers State on Thursday night, killing seven of the members.

Some items recovered from gunmen arrested in the forest between Obigbo and Eleme Local
Government Areas in Rivers State… yesterday

Five other members of the ESN were arrested.

The group was said to be preparing for an attack on a police station when the joint security team swooped, apparently acting on a tip off, and engaged the ESN members in a gun duel.

Confirming the development, Deputy Army Public Relations Officer, Lt. Col. Charles Ekeocha, said: “6 Division, in conjunction with Keystone, DSS and NSCDC led by Brigadier-General MD Danja, conducted clearance/raid operations at suspected IPOB/ESN camp in Agbochia Forest along Pipelines Road Ogali/ Kom-Kom boundary between Eleme and Oyigbo local government areas of Rivers State.

“During the clearance/raid operations, the team came in contact with the IPOB/ESN members. However, during the firefight, 7 IPOB/ESN members were neutralised and 5 suspects were arrested.

“Items recovered during the clearance/raid include: Communication gadgets, assorted cell phones, army uniforms arms and ammunition were also recovered.

“Also recovered from the camp were two AK 47 rifles, two G3 rifles, one locally made machine gun and one G3 magazine. Also recovered were three rounds of 7.62mm special,10 rounds 7.62mm , 51mm NATO, one cutlass, five Baofeng handheld radios with chargers and 10 black berets.”

Scores feared killed in bandits’ invasion of Niger Community

Also yesterday, gunmen launched fresh attacks on several communities in Wushishi Local Government Area of Niger State.

A yet to be known numberof people were killed.

Some of the victims were said to have drowned in River Kaduna while running for their lives.

‘National Day of Mourning’: Civil Society Groups Protest in Lagos, Abuja

Members of the civil society groups yesterday took to the streets of Lagos and Abuja to protest the rising level of killings in different parts of the country.

The protesters demanded accountability from government.

The groups on Friday gathered in front of the National Human Rights Commission in Abuja and also in Ikeja, for a walk tagged “Day of Mourning”.

They displayed placards with inscriptions such as “End kidnapping,” “Nigerians Lives Matter,” and “I stand for Rights to Life”, among others.

Similar protests were held in February and earlier this month of May, calling attention to the violence, lawlessness and bloodletting raging in many parts of the country.

Amnesty: FG not doing enough to protect lives

Amnesty International believes the federal government is not doing enough to protect Nigerians.

The situation, it claims, has emboldened perpetrators of injustice.

Nigeria, according to AI in a statement to mark its 60th anniversary, has had a long history of human rights abuses.

It said: “Not much has changed about human rights in Nigeria since 1967, and the concerns remain flagrant disregard for human rights, failure of authorities to protect the people, threats to human rights including the right to freedom of expression, suppression of dissenting voices, and lack of accountability.

“Incessant killings and the stunning failure of the authorities to end them and bring suspected perpetrators to justice have been and continues to be a threat to the right to life in Nigeria.”

It frowned at the incessant clampdown on protesters, describing that as a major violation of people’s rights.

It added: “Protest is not a crime and Nigerians must be able to assemble peacefully and express themselves without fear.

“We are concerned that the civic space is shrinking and the fear of violence by security forces and sponsored thugs are undermining the right to peaceful protest and having a profound impact on other human rights.

“All the claims of reforming the police turned out to be ineffective. Despite the systemic human rights violations perpetrated by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), no one has been held accountable,” it said, adding that the government has failed “in its constitutional and international human rights obligations to ensure access to justice for victims” of rape and abuses.

“Nigeria’s law enforcement and judicial system must be empowered to deliver justice.”

Protests in Zamfara emir’s palace over attacks

Residents of Zurmi, Zamfara State, also staged their own protest yesterday over the spate of gun attacks in the area.

The protesters stormed the palace of the Emir of Zurmi to express their frustrations at the inability of the government and the security agencies to protect lives and property.

Some of the protesters blocked the Gusau-Jibia Road and began to smash the vehicles of the motorists plying the road.

Police repels cult attack on Kwara command

The Police in Kwara State yesterday repelled an attack by suspected cultists on the command headquarters in Ilorin.

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the command, SP Ajayi Okasanmi, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that it was a reprisal attack on the command after it had put a situation under control earlier around Surulere, Baboko and Oja Tuntun areas of the state capital.

He said two tricycles invaded the police headquarters in Ilorin,

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