At least 16 persons have reportedly lost their lives in a fresh attack by a gang suspected to be the deadly herdsmen at Agagbe community in Gwer West Local Government Areas of Benue State.
Commander of the joint military operation in the state code named, Operation Whirl Stroke, OPWS, Major-General Adeyemi Yekini, who confirmed the attack, said seven corpses had so far been recovered by his troops from the community.
Yekini said he received report from Sub-Sector Commander of OPWS in Gwer West Local Government Area, Flying Officer Mohammed Abubakar, that at about 4:30pm on Saturday, some of his reliable sources from Agagbe informed him that some men dressed in military uniform were sighted in Agagbe forest rustling cows and he quickly mobilised his men to the area and found three dead bodies, which were moved to a hospital in the area.
“My personnel embarked on a search as well as carried out the investigation and discovered that those behind the rustling of cows were in military uniform.
“Thereafter, we made contact with the DPO, who equally identified the rustlers as people who disguised in military uniform to rustle cattle in the area.
“Just this Sunday afternoon (yesterday), my men went on mop-up patrol and discovered another additional four dead bodies at the scene of the incident.”
Yekini expressed regrets that some unseen hands might be at work to create a state of crisis in the state, ahead of the governorship and state Assembly elections, a week to the polls just as it happened in Agatu a week to the last presidential election.
He, however, assured that his men would continue to protect the people from marauding herdsmen but advised those fuelling crisis in the state to desist from the act in the interest of the people of the state.
Contacted, the paramount ruler of the area, Ter Nagi, Chief Daniel Abomtse, acknowledged that there was heavy attack in some communities in his domain at the weekend.
“OPWS has been helpful to us but sometimes, troops of the operation will kill cows belonging to herdsmen and chase them away only for the herdsmen to come in a reprisal attack on my subjects, this happened on January 21 and a similar incident occurred on Saturday.”
When contacted, Chairman of Gwer West Local Government Area, Mr. Francis Ayaga, said three villages in Agagbe were affected in the attack, adding that he had confirmed 16 deaths in the affected villages.