The President Ukum Development Association (UDA), Mr. Joseph Akenawe Terzungwe, has described as false, the statement by the Commissioner of Police, Benue State Command, CP Wale Abbas that the Fulani herdsmen attacked and killed people at Gbeji community in Ukum Local Government area because their members were killed and cows rustled in the area.
Speaking with newsmen at Zaki Biam, headquarters of Ukum Local Government Area of Benue on Friday, Mr. Terzungwe insisted that the rampaging killer Fulani herdsmen that attacked the community are not from the area.
He said, “There was no time that any member of the Gbeji community or any citizen of the area had a conflict, clash or killed a Fulani person or rustled their cow.
“There are no Fulani herdsmen in this area neither are there cows. Fulanis do not live with us in this or neighbouring community so there is no possibility of farmers clashing or having conflicts with herdsmen. No member of the Ukum Local Government Area has issues with Fulani”, he stated.
The Police Commissioner in the State was quoted in a media report to have said that, the killing of over 36 people in Gbeji was a reprisal attack.
He stated that the crisis started when five Fulani herdsmen were attacked and killed in three separate incidents and their cows rustled.
He, however, gave a lower death toll of 10 people, including a policeman, during the reprisal attack, stating that the officer was shot by a stray bullet and died en route to the hospital.”
Abbas further stated that the police were still searching for the herders and farmers involved in the conflict.
But according to the Association President, the Commissioner of Police’s assertion was merely an attempt to cover up and justify the unjustifiable murderous act by the Fulani herdsmen.
He disclosed that the herdsmen that carried out the deadly attack that left many dead and several others wounded ambushed the vulnerable and innocent members of the community while they were asleep in the middle of the night unprovoked, killed and destroyed houses as well as properties and left with no trace.
Also in a statement, the Convener of the Benue Republicans, Chief Peter Shande, reminded the Police Commissioner that, as far back as 2017 when the state government enacted the law prohibiting open grazing of cattle and other livestock and the establishment of ranches there has been no open grazing of livestock in the area.
He asserted that the Police Commissioner, as a security chief in the state ought to have known better.