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Several persons feared dead in fresh Benue attack

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Many people are feared dead in a fresh attack on the Ugboju community in the Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State.
There are conflicting reports surrounding the precise number of casualties in the recent violence in the North-Central state.
However, a local who identified himself as Oche told journalists on the phone that 15 corpses were recovered Thursday morning.
He added that several people, including children, are still missing.
A source earlier said that nine people lost their lives in the fresh Benue attack which occurred on Wednesday night.
The source noted that the fresh Benue attack was allegedly perpetrated by suspected herdsmen.
Gunmen, on January 28, 2024, suspected to be herdsmen unleashed terror in some communities in Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State, killing eight people.
Barely two weeks ago, gunmen, suspected to be armed herders, killed four persons, including two soldiers, in the same LGA in the state.
The armed men were said to have attacked, invading some communities, including Abugbe, Okokolo, Ugboju, Odugbeho, and Olegobidu.
Speaking to The Punch correspondent in a telephone conversation on Thursday, a former Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mike Inalegwu, who confirmed the fresh Benue attack on the Ugboju community said many people were killed and many others, including children, were missing.
He said, “The incident happened in the evening yesterday (Wednesday)  when people were engaging in social activities.
“The armed herders surrounded the Ugboju community from different places and attacked the people.
“The armed herders were just shooting indiscriminately while people were running helter-skelter.
“When they were done in Ugboju, they moved to the deserted Okokolo and burnt down many houses.
“We have buried nine people in my community this morning.”
Also confirming the attack in a text message on Thursday, a member of the House of Assembly representing Agatu State Constituency,  Godwin Edoh, said that the armed herders attacked the Ugboju community.
He said,  “No response from any quarter. Instead, another village in Agatu North called Ugboju Omaga was attacked on Wednesday where 15 people were killed.
“Our cry to the government and other security agencies for aid has fallen on deaf ears, so we are left at the mercy of God.
“What have my people done to this government in the state and at the federal level?
“I totally condemn this fresh Benue attack on the innocent people of Agatu by these armed herdsmen who are bent on taking over and occupying our ancestral home by force.
“I’m frustrated as a representative of my people by their cries. I have forwarded all the above (gory photos of dead bodies recovered) to the WhatsApp lines of both the governor, Father Hyacinth Alia and his deputy, Sam Ode.”
At the time of filing this report, the community leaders said that several people were still missing.
The spokesperson for the Benue State Police Command, SP, Catherine Anene, said she has yet to receive information about the fresh Benue attack from the Divisional Police Officer in Agatu.
She said, “Let’s wait for the DPO, I will confirm from him. As we speak, there are so many police teams in Agatu who were deployed there.”
Owing to frequent attacks, the Benue State Governor, Hyacinth Alia, had in November 2023 called on the Nigerian Army to deploy infantry soldiers to the state to check the killing of farmers by suspected herders.
He also sought the establishment of a battalion at Ugbema and seven forward operating bases in Guma, Logo, Ukum, and Kwande Local Government Areas to enhance response.
Alia spoke during a courtesy visit to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, at the Army Headquarters, Abuja.
Just two days ago, the governor received the delegation of the United States Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance over the humanitarian crisis in his state.
Led by Senior Humanitarian Advisor to USBHA, Patrick Robinson, to the Government House in Makurdi, Alia told the delegation that over 1.5 million displaced people in the state lacked access to potable water and other necessities of life.
Benue State is battling with banditry and farmer-herder clashes, which have led to the killing of many and the displacement of millions of people.
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