Death toll rises to 24 in Benue herdsmen attack, mass burial holds Friday

Twenty four persons, mostly women and children, were on Monday killed in a fresh crisis at Omusu Edimoga in the Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State.
The council Chairman, Olofu Ogwuche, stated this while conducting the state Governor, Samuel Ortom, round the affected community on Tuesday.
The governor and members of state security council had visited the community for on-the-spot assessment of the situation.
Ogwuche explained that some herdsmen had reported to the police, the loss of their cows some kilometres away from the affected village.
Ogwuche said he had already called a peace meeting when report got to him that the herdsmen had invaded the village and killed people.
The herdsmen were said to have invaded the community between 2pm and 3pm; some of the children killed were said to be returning from school.
In a two-room building, eight persons were said to have been murdered during the attack.
The remains of an 11-year-old girl in her school uniform were discovered by police at the time the governor visited the area.
The chairman said, “On Monday, policemen informed me that some herdsmen reported that the people of Omusu Edimoga rustled their cows.
“When I heard of this, I started a mediation process to settle the matter. It was while this was going on that I received information that herdsmen had invaded the community.
“I rushed down to the community along with policemen and we were able to recover 17 corpses which we took to the mortuary at the Okpoga General Hospital.
“This morning (Tuesday), we had recovered the remains of six persons that have been taken to the mortuary. As we were moving around, the corpse of an 11-year-old girl was recovered. So, in all, 24 persons have been confirmed dead, while some are still missing.”
At St Mary’s Catholic Hospital, Okpoga, a little boy, identified as Loko, who was shot in the buttocks and who also lost his mother to the attack, burst into tears when he sighted the governor’s entourage in the ward.
Ortom, who condemned the attack, accused the Fulani of always taking the law into their own hands.
“They reported a case of cattle rustling, and instead of waiting for the outcome of the police investigation, they went to the community and killed 24 people in a day, it is senseless.
“The people in this community do not understand cow language, so no one here rustles their cow. It is Fulani men that are rustling their fellow Fulani men’s cows.
“We cannot continue with these senseless killings, that is why we came out with the law which is aimed to protect everyone.
“When Sharia law was introduced in Zamfara State, no one violated the law; let security men do their job and arrest the perpetrators.”
The governor, however, called on the people not to take the law into their own hands.
Earlier, the Benue State Police Command spokesman, ASP Moses Yamu, had said 16, persons were killed.
He said the herdsmen were on reprisal after the people of Omusu “maimed their cows, while two herdsmen got missing, and one of them was later found dead.”
It was later reported that Ortom had ordered that the victims of the latest attack be buried on Friday. – Friday.

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