For Doowuese Igbahemba, 34, life has undoubtedly taken a bitter twist, as things may never be the same again after her husband and two children were gruesomely murdered in an attack by armed bandits on her Tse-Gaase village in Gwer West Local Government Area of Benue State.
Igbahemba recalled that fateful Thursday night, April 4, as one that would not be easily erased from her memory because of the horror she and other villagers witnessed in the hands of armed bandits.
“It was about 1:30am when the armed bandits, suspected to be herders, besieged our village. They shot sporadically while others used machete on their victims. I managed to escape with four of my children to Agagbe.
“But my husband, who was running away with our two other children, was unfortunately ambushed by the herders and hacked to death,” she narrated amidst sobs.
In the same vein, 80-year-old Pa Ibi Tse lost both his wife and son in the attack. Tse said his 45-year-old son had picked his mother on a motorcycle to flee from the troubled community to Naka town but was intercepted on the way by the attackers.
“I was actually in Naka town when the attack happened so my son picked his aged mother with the intention of bringing her to Naka town and then go back to evacuate his own family. But while they were running away, they were attacked on the road and killed,” Tse said.
Daily Trust gathered that a total of 24 people lost their lives from the four communities of Mbapupuu, Mbapa, Mbachphon and Enger all in Agagbe district of Gwer West LGA which came under massive attack on April 4 and 5.
Governor Samuel Ortom, during his visit to Naka, the headquarters of Gwer West local government area, to condole with the bereaved families asked the youth to defend their fatherland against continued attacks on parts of the state, which led to the fresh killing of a soldier.
Ortom disclosed that the soldier was killed on Monday in Guma local government area by suspected herders who allegedly engaged security men in a gun duel as they tried to repel them from attacking villages.
The governor warned those behind the killings to desist as the grazing law would not be repealed because it is the best solution for peaceful cohabitation between farmers and herders, stressing that whoever wants to live in the state must abide by the law of the land.
Earlier, the traditional head of Gwer West, Chief Daniel Abomtse, said he had lost 212 people to suspected herders’ attack between 2011 and 2018 in 24 attacks, including the latest of 24 rural dwellers in his domain.
Abomtse, however, told the governor that his subjects would not want to stay in an IDP camp as he appealed for the deployment of adequate security to enable them return to their homes as they are currently scattered around relatives’ houses in Naka town.
The governor agreed to the royal father’s request as he maintained that his administration was not ready to open another camp.
The Gwer West local government chairman, Francis Ayaga, said the area had suffered attacks by herders in the past 10 years and that the worst was in 2014 when the attackers used chemical weapons on water channels in the locality, which killed many.
The State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, had at an earlier press conference explained that information available to the command indicated that the crisis had been infiltrated by bandits.
“The issue has gone beyond herdsmen and farmers from what we have seen. Our men have encountered them too; they are dressed in all-black. It is an infiltration from either Zamfara State, or neighbouring countries where they are being chased from,” he said.