Relatives of victims of last week’s bombing in Nasarawa State that saw no fewer than 40 pastoralists killed and more than a dozen others injured have expressed anger over the incident.
Recounting their ordeal to Daily Trust at the weekend, the relatives blamed Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State for being an antagonist of the Fulani in the state.
Daily Trust reports that the victims were killed in an airstrike suspected to be carried out by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF). The victims were said to have returned from a border town in Benue State to their domain in Nasarawa State after retrieving their cows which were arrested under the Benue State Anti-Grazing Law. They claimed that they were made to pay more than N29m as fine and asked to convey their cattle back in trucks and that it was while they were offloading the animals that they were bombed.
The attack took place at Kwatre Angulu in Rukubi, Doma, the headquarters of Doma LGA.
I lost nine children
Sixty-year-old Alhaji Alfa Bello told Daily Trust that he lost nine children in the air raid.
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He told our correspondent on Sunday in Lafia, the state capital, that he was at home when one of his sons informed him that the Benue Livestock Guards had arrested his cows and took them to Lanta in Benue State. He said he paid N6m as fine to retrieve the cows.
Alhaji Alfa further said it was while the animals were being offloaded from the trucks that brought them back that the air strike took place killing his nine children and those who came to assist in the offloading.
He explained that, “Benue State Livestock Guards arrested my cows and took them to Lanta area of the state. I went there and retrieved my cows, and while offloading them at Kwatan Angulu in Rukubi in Doma LGA, all of a sudden an airstrike came from nowhere and killed my nine children, including my cows.”
“Also, among those who were killed were 15 drivers who conveyed the cows from Benue.
“The death of my children has demoralised me. All my strength has finished. All my hope has been shattered. Those that killed my nine children have finished me.
“The bomb has destroyed all I had laboured for. Where do I start from? I have lost everything that I had laboured for in just one day. Since the sad incident happened I have not been eating. In fact, I was put on drip.”
He, therefore, appealed to both the federal and Nasarawa State governments to come to his aid to enable him pay the medical bills of the injured persons.
Also narrating his ordeal to our correspondent, Adamu Abdullahi (30), said they paid N1m on each cow as fine.
Abdullahi, who has two wives and 10 children, said they were offloading the cows when the airstrike happened and that many people and their cows were killed.
He said among those killed were 15 drivers who conveyed the cows from Benue.
He explained that, “I ran when I heard the blast and in the process I fell and dislocated my left hand. I am also experiencing pains in my chest, legs and stomach. I am appealing to the federal and state governments to please come to our aid.’’
He said he was the breadwinner of his family and that since the incident nobody was taking care of his family, especially his aged mother.
Also speaking to our correspondent, Isah Aliyu-Musa, who is nursing his two brothers, Usman Bawa and Ibrahim Hassan, at the Aboki Hospital in Lafia, said N27m was paid as fine before the victims retrieved their cows.
He wondered why they were attacked as there had not been any misunderstanding between the pastoralists and any farmer in Benue State.
He said, “There was no any misunderstanding between the Fulani herders and Benue State farmers. So, I wonder why the military aircraft came to bomb our people. The livestock guards from Benue State took our cows all in the name of their anti-grazing law.
“This is a terrible situation that has ever happened to us. The military aircraft bombed our people like animals. What kind of leadership do we have in our country where some group of people take laws into their hands and start killing people at will as if they are not human beings?’’
Ortom should scrap anti-grazing law – Miyetti Allah
Meanwhile, the National President of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Abdullahi Badejo, has urged the Benue State Government to immediately scrap the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law to prevent the persistent disagreement between the government and the herders.
Badejo gave the charge at the Government House, Lafia, on Thursday when he led over 200 leaders of Fulani groups to visit Governor Abdullahi Sule to register their anger on the incident.
He accused Governor Ortom of conspiracy against the Fulani pastoralists by implementing the anti-open grazing law which he said had made life difficult for herdsmen in the state.
He said, “The Fulani people have been pushed to the wall by incessant attacks, particularly in Benue State, as a result of anti-open grazing law, and I want to say it here today that an injury to one Fulani is an injury to the entire Fulani community in Africa.
“We have so far lost 40 Fulani to the attack, and as I speak to you now, 15 others are receiving treatment in various hospitals in Nasarawa State.
“Nine persons were killed in a single family during the attack. We are peace-loving people and we do not want any confrontation.
“The anti-grazing law that was established by Governor Samuel Ortom is the reason for all the challenges that we are facing. The law should be scrapped because it was made by humans and not God. It is only when it is scrapped that all these challenges will come to an end.”
Badejo added that so many cows were still in the custody of the Benue State Government and urged Governor Ortom to immediately release them to the owners.
Reacting to the incident, Mr. Ahmed Sarki-Uman, Chairman Doma LGA, Mr Sarki-Usman, confirmed the incident.
He debunked the rumour that those killed were bandits, saying they were Fulani pastoralists who went to retrieve their cows seized by the Benue State Government after payment of fines.
The council chairman disclosed that no fewer than 50 people were still missing, adding that those that were confirmed dead were 35 at the scene of the bombing and that about 15 people were receiving medication in various hospitals.
He further said that, “The authority of Doma LGA had met with the state government and the leadership of Fulani pastoralists with a view to finding a lasting solution to the present situation.
He assured the people of the area, especially the Fulani pastoralists, that peace would return to Doma soonest.