At least 18 people including a police sergeant, traders and farmers were killed when suspected herdsmen attacked Gbeji community in Ukum Local Government Area of Benue State.
Several others were also injured in the attack that happened in the early hours of Wednesday, 19th October, 2022.
A local who spoke to newsmen, Elder Iorngaem Kerepe, said the herdsmen stormed Gbeji town at about 4:am through St. Michael’s Catholic Church, shooting sporadically, killing people including a police sergeant and one corporal when they attempted to repel the attackers.
Kerepe expressed shock over the attack owing to the fact that there is the presence of military men at Kente, a Jukun settlement on the Benue -Taraba border, 2 kilometre from Gbeji, with another military checkpoint at Gou 3 kilometre from Gbeji.
Names of those killed in the attack include Mr. Mteen Kulegwa, 48, Ikechukwu popularly known as (IK) a trader resident in Gbeji, Mr. Stephen Kpelan, Mr. Afam, Godwin Zege, Vincent Tyavmbi, Akor Ikyor and Mr. Ordugh Ikyor, among others.
According to the Nigerian Tribune report, the attack at Gbeji was a reprisal after some locals killed five herders in three separate places, rustled cows, butchered and shared them in some communities around the Logo Local Government Area of the state.
The State Commissioner of Police, Wale Abass who confirmed the separate attacks said that the crisis started on Tuesday and there was a reprisal on Wednesday.
“Two Fulanis were coming from Taraba and were on a Keke napep after the border line, they (locals) stopped them and were attacked and killed,” the CP stated.
“Simultaneously, close to Anyiin in Logo local government another two Fulanis were attacked and killed, also at another village one of the herders rearing cows, they attacked and killed him thereafter (locals) rustled his cows, butchered and shared them.
“So when this happened and we got wind of it we were just planning to meet and placate the Fulanis through their leader, the Miyeitti Allah so as to avoid any reprisal attack unknown to us that they had their plan.
“So around 7 am on Wednesday, they (Fulanis) bombarded Gbeji and fired sporadically and unfortunately, a stray bullet hit one of our officers and died before being taken to the hospital,”
The CP said that ten people including the policeman and five herders had lost their lives in the attacks.
He said that with the deployment of combined security operatives normalcy had returned to the Gbeji community and added that his men were on the trail of both the locals and suspected herders who perpetrated the evil.
Meanwhile, the security adviser to the governor, Lt. Col. Paul Hemba, confirmed the death of 18 people including a policeman but claimed not to be aware of the killing of five herdsmen by the locals.
“As for reprisal, I have not got any report yet about the killing of the Fulani. Am still trying to make an inquiry. I was woken up early at about 12:45am today and informed that an attack was ongoing at Gbeji,” he said.
“I alerted the security agencies and they all mobilised and responded to the distress call and that helped in reducing the casualty. The security agencies including the DSS all responded.
“The verifiable figures that I have now given to me with pictures by the chairman of the council who is at the scene is eighteen including two policemen,” he said, adding that there were tendencies of the figures to get much higher.
The security adviser said that the injured ones were taken to the local government health centre at Afia while the corpses were taken to NKST hospital Afia and added that critical ones were being moved to Teaching Hospital, Makurdi.