BREAKING: BENUE KILLINGS: Alia Considers amnesty for killers as 90 die in 70 days

By Peter Duru, Makurdi

Benue State has continued to witness armed herders and local militia induced killings.
The bloodletting has continued unabated in the state even with the coming of the Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia administration….CONTINUE READING

Pundits had believed that the advent of the new administration led by a Catholic Priest would usher in a season of respite for the people but, contrary to the expectations of many, armed herders’ and local militia induced killings have persisted claiming close to 90 lives in 70 days (since May 29 when former Governor Sam Ortom left office) and leaving scores with diverse degree of injuries.

Among victims of the spate of bloody attacks on communities were personnel of the Benue State Community Volunteer Guards, BSCVGs, mourners, women, children and even the elderly.
A time line of the attacks indicates

that the June 3 attack by unknown gunmen on Imande Mbakange and neighbouring communities in Mbacher Council Ward of Kastina-Ala Local Government Area, LGA, claimed no fewer than 40 lives while many others sustained serious injuries.

And on June 14, two separate crisis points between Mbasombo and Mbaivur
communities of Gwer LGA as well as Ibilla and Oju communities in Oju LGA, where armed militia gangs were deployed, led to the death of three persons.

A member of the BSCVGs was reportedly killed on July 1 in an ambush by unknown gunmen at Tse Anwhwan on Iorza – Jootar Road in Logo LGA

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July 3 also witnessed the murder of another member of BSCVGs and many injured during an attack on Ugba, Logo LGA headquarters by unknown armed men.

Then the July 6 reported invasion of Tse Uikpam, an Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, host community in Guma LGA where a father of two was murdered by armed men who also stole from his farm.

July 7 and 8 witnessed attacks on Adogo Ugbaam, Akpuuna and Diom communities in Ukum LGA where over 33 persons including mourners were murdered in cold blood by armed men.

The July 16 attack on Igba-Ukyor and Tse Baka communities of Ushongo LGA claimed six lives. The orgy of killings, which dates back to several years and left Benue grappling with hundreds of thousands of IDPs, has persisted and grown in intensity, thereby leaving the people helpless.

Only recently, Governor Alia hinted on what his government intends to do to put an end to the killings. The governor, who visited Akpuuna village in Ukum LGA to assess the level of damage in the community shortly of the cold-blooded murder of over 30 locals by armed men, lamented that the killings were being perpetrated by Benue people who were killing each other.

Addressing the people, he said: “I feel quite sad, the people of Benue are so saddened. The Saturday the killings took place was a black Saturday for the state.

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“This is not what we pray for, hope for and work for. There are a number of versions to the stories. I think those who narrated their stories here, when they talk off camera tell you the reality of what it is.

“They fully know those who partook in this inhumane attack. We are still going to speak to them to get to the root cause of it all. But this cannot be tolerated at all. Benue is a peaceful place and peace must return to Benue. We will have to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Ukum Local Government is the headquarters of yam in the state.

“Every day, you see tons and tons of lorries leaving this place with yam. So, we wouldn’t want anything that will tarnish that image at all. I advise the youths of Akpuuna that this must not repeat itself. We may have earned a bad name in these three local governments of Logo, Katsina-Ala and Ukum. Our President is aware of this and he is saddened by it and this is not what he hopes for the good people of Benue.

“We have to fix Benue and make things work. If you know anyone inciting you, anyone misleading you, let me know, we will hold the person responsible. Benue is meant for peace, Benue is meant for all of us.

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“And for the attackers, you came for the soft target. This is not acceptable, law and order must be in place. If anyone did anything wrong to you, please report it to law enforcement agents. If they cannot handle it immediately, they will let my office know.

“I condole the families of those killed, I’m coming back to do the burial when all the arrangements are made. Benue is a peaceful place and I wouldn’t want anything that would tarnish this image.

“These are killings from within. There is no one who came from outside to commit these killings. It’s you my very brothers killing each other; it is right within the house and that must stop.”

“An entire village is wiped out, how do you explain this? So, if Benue is not good enough for you, please leave the state. But if you stay in the state, it must be by law and order. No two ways about this.”

Alia reiterated his administration’s readiness to grant amnesty to repented criminals. He recalled the promise he made during his electioneering campaigns, reiterating his administration’s resolve to rehabilitate, train and reintegrate those currently hiding in the forests in order to end the orgy of attacks and killings in the state….CONTINUE READING