Reports coming from Oganenigu in Dekina LGA and Abejukolo in Omala LGA of Kogi state confirms that about 65 persons have been killed by marauding terrorists suspected to be fulani herdsmen.
Oganenigu and Abejukolo communities have, in the past one week been at the receiving end of systematic attacks resulting into carnage,wanton killing and destruction of lives and properties.
The current death toll, according to community leaders and youths who craved anonymity, remains conservative as bodies of missing persons are being discovered on a daily basis just as sporadic attacks are being launched on the communities being the suspected herdsmen from their hideouts in border locations between Kogi and Benue states.
It would be recalled that 32 bodies were found dead in Oganenigu and Abejukolo following coordinated attacks launched by gunmen on Tuesday the 13th of March 2018.
Locals said that the attackers who they suspected to be herders invaded Oganenigu community and other adjoining villages of Iyale and Aloko in Dekina LGA on Tuesday night killing, maiming and razing houses. An eyewitness said they wore military fatigue and wielded AK 47 assault rifles. Many of the residents who fled for their lives remain unaccounted for.
A source claimed the attackers, “about 500”, burnt down over 20 houses, killed anyone in sight and shot at those who tried to escape into the bushes.
In Abejukolo, Omala LGA of the state, suspected herders also killed one Joshua Adejo, leader of a local vigilante group.
Following the attacks and no response from security agencies, natives from the affected communities and other nearby villages fled their homes while some had gone missing.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police Monday Bala confirmed the incident during a press conference but declined to give casualty figures. He said the Commissioner of Police Aliyu Janga has drafted policemen and other security operatives to the area to restore order.
Restoring order to the affected communities appears an uphill task to the Nigerian Police as 4 members of the family of a serving police officer were reportedly killed in a follow-up attack.
One resident of the area said the incident might be a reprisal for a 2016 altercation that led to the death of four Fulani herdsmen and an unspecified number of cattle.
In February 2018, Governor Yahaya Bello donated 15,000 hectares of land for the controversial Federal Government’s cattle colony policy. He said Fulani herdsmen would be brought to the land, since the state didn’t have any anti-grazing law, as enacted by neighbouring Benue State.
The Senate on the 15th of march 2018 condemned the attack and urged the Federal Government to deploy security agencies in the affected local government areas.
The resolution followed a point of order raised by Senator Atai Aidoko (APC, Kogi East) who was reportedly sacked by the Appeal court on the 18th of December 2017 but still attends sittings at the Senate. Aidoko said the herdsmen killed 20 people in Oganenigu community in Dekina and 12 others in Abejukolo and Agbenema communities in Omala.
“I want this Senate to urge President Muhammadu Buhari to direct security agencies to bring the situation under control by arresting the perpetrators and ensuring they are prosecuted. This killing is taking on another dimension, as the killers also amputate people’s hands,’’ he said.
“The Senate is concerned that despite the widespread condemnation of the killings going on in other parts of the country, the perpetrators of this heinous crimes have not been arrested and persecuted by the Nigerian Police Force. This has led to the continuation of the killings in the country.
“The senate is worried that the incessant attack impedes all well-meaning efforts at peace building,” he said while presenting the motion.
However, Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, cautioned Mr. Aidoko Ali against tagging the killers ‘Fulani herdsmen.’
“I want to give a perspective just for the guidance of this Senate. Before we went to Zamfara the impression I had and possibly all of these of us on the team was that Fulanis were fighting the Hausas. Or to say in a different way that the farmers were fighting with the herders. It was totally different.
“Armed bandits were killing both farmers and Fulanis. We must not allow ourselves to play into the hands of these criminals if we continue to use certain names or nomenclatures, we may be getting some people to sympathise with criminals.
“I will advise that we henceforth look at this people as armed bandits and criminals, if we say Fulani, the most innocent Fulani man will start to think this is against him and he would sympathise with them and not cooperate with us. Armed bandits can be anybody whether is Fulani, Igbo.”
He added that Nigerian security operatives are overstretched hence, their incapability of securing vulnerable areas. Dino Melaye, a senator from Kogi West, charged the federal and state governments to take swift action on the development.
“Kogi is in the news again for the very wrong reason. The responsibility for the protection of lives and properties is the primary prerogative of government at the state and federal level. Enough of the excuse that our security agencies are over stretched. When governors, president, senators took oath of office, we promised to defend the constitution and lives and properties of those who voted for us. There has been gross display and incompetence at the federal and state level. Let us for once call Mr. President.”
He also blamed the killings on Kogi state Governor, Yahaya Bello, who is his political foe. He said an invitation by the governor that Fulani herdsmen “should come and reside in the state allowed the killers the freedom of movement”.
“What we have in Kogi is not news and we expected it when my own governor told the world that anywhere they chase Fulani man away, that Kogi state is open for them to come. He was the first to say that Kogi should be used as for colony. If today, we have these criminals capitalising on the verbal diarrhoea of an individual, then automatically we invited those crises.
“Finally, on these killings, Kogi State Government has not made any official statement. Killings of this magnitude, no statement, no sympathy, no visit to the site of the incidence, nothing. This type of insensitivity to the people of Kogi state is appalling.”