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Benue State Under Terrorist Invasion: UN Terror Tracker

Radical Islamist Fulani Militia Kill more than 500 since Jan. 1

By Alex Agbo and Mike Odeh James

(Kaduna) Mothers and Fathers, grandparents and children, wept across Benue State at graveside ceremonies in January and February after large-scale terrorist attacks, TruthNigeria has learned. More concerning is that the invasion of killers will likely continue until Benue’s  porous borders are controlled, according to a Human Rights Consultant for the United Nations.

“Since the beginning  of this year, we have documented  a series of large-scale attacks on Benue communities by foreign and local Fulani militias,” said David Onyilokwu Idah, Special Representative of the International Human Rights Commission, Africa Regional Headquarters, Nairobi, Kenya, to TruthNigeria.  The Fulani tribe is one of the largest ethnic communities in Nigeria, claiming 10 million members,  and includes leaders in government, industry and academia as well as crime and terrorism.

Major Yahaya Shinkut, a retired Army officer and a security consultant told Truthnigeria that, reopening of Nigeria’s borders has led to massive influx of terrorists into Nigeria.

The terrorist cadre have arrived from  Zamfara, Katsina, Cameroon, Tchad, and the Niger Republic, according to Shinkut, and have unleashed a wave of attacks in Nigeria’s Middle Belt state of Benue, killing 500 or more native citizens since January 1, 2024.

Civilian Defense Force policemen search for corpses after an overnight attack by terrorists in Benue's Guma County in May 2023. Credit Nigerian Army.
Civilian Defense Force policemen search for corpses after an overnight attack by terrorists in Benue’s Guma County in May 2023. Credit Nigerian Army.

Armed Terrorists Streaming Across Benue’s Southern Border

David Onyilokwu Idah, Director, Special Representative, and Envoy, Africa Region Headquarters, International Human Rights Commission, IHRC, Nairobi, Kenya. Photo courtesy of David Idah.
David Onyilokwu Idah, Director, Special Representative, and Envoy, Africa Region Headquarters, International Human Rights Commission, IHRC, Nairobi, Kenya. Photo courtesy of David Idah.

According to Idah, who spoke exclusively to Truthnigeria, Fulani terrorists, who are normally armed with submachine guns, AK 49s, and other sophisticated weapons, are trooping into Benue Valley on a large scale.

“Benue South, which is also called Zone C and consists of Ado, Agatu, Apa, Obi, Ogbadibo, Okpokwu, Ohimini, Oju, and Otukpo counties, is at the receiving end of the attacks,” Idah said.

“All these Local Governance Areas [counties] have been attacked, and around five hundred settlements have been completely erased by the Fulanis,” Idah added.

“Similarly, the attackers have murdered more than 450 people during their attacks in Otukpo, Agatu, and Apa counties. In Agatu, communities like Ogwumogbo, Ikpele, Ejima, Okokolo, Olegomakwu, Olegonyilo, Nahem, Ocholonya, Abugbe, Ugboju, Odugbeho, and Olegobidu were completely destroyed by the terrorists, while over 300 people lost their lives between January 3, 2024, and March, 3, 2024,” Idah went on to say.

“In Otukpo County, the terrorists have attacked the settlements of Ogboju, Umogidi, and Entekpa, and more than 50 people have been killed as well.

“The attacks in Agatu, Otukpa, and Apa are still going on in the state, Idah noted to Truthnigeria.

“Similarly, the terrorists, in addition to killing and destroying settlements, have also burned farmlands and carted away foodstuffs to their bases in neighboring states such as Nasarawa and Kogi.

“There would be a famine this year since the terrorists have prevented people from going to farms.

Benue Northeast Suffers Heavy Attacks

Apart from Zone C, another area in Benue that suffered and is still suffering from terror attacks is Benue Northeast, which comprises Kwande, Katsina, and Ukum.

Abraham C. Kyambe, a Facebook user and civil rights activist, posted videos of the dead bodies of Benue youths from Kwande and Ukum who were killed by Fulani terrorists from Taraba and Cameroon.

There are 9 attacks that had occurred in Kwande County in the month of March alone, according to Kyambe.

Bloodbath in Ukum County

Fulani terrorists from the neighboring state of Taraba mobilized and stormed Ukum, a remote county in Benue Northeast, and killed over 30 indigenous people on March 1, 2024.

A Fulani was kidnapped and then murdered by a local Tiv militia. The Fulanis then went to Taraba, mobilized their men, and launched a reprisal attack on communities in Ukum, according to a Blueprint newspaper report,

The commander of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWs), the military outfit charged with security for Ukum, also confirmed the attack, adding that 30 people were killed.

However, Mr. Kyambe told Truth Nigeria exclusively that the newspaper and the security officers did not give an accurate account of what transpired.

“What happened is this: Fulani terrorists from Taraba, Adamawa, and Cameroon have been trooping into Ukum and Kwande, and the youths who are aware of this development started taking measures to defend themselves by forming citizen guards.

“Few weeks ago, a Fulani herder who is not from Ukum was found dead, and the word was that he was murdered by local militias. As soon as we heard of that accusation, we knew that the Fulanis would attack.

“So, on March 1,2024, over 600 Fulanis attacked Ukum, and despite all the resistance that youths put up, the Fulanis succeeded in destroying many settlements and killing many people.

“Like we all know, the military is too slow to respond or would come late.

Why the Sudden Attacks on Benue?

 Pastor Mathias Onah, senior minister with Redeemed Christian Church of God, Otukpo. Credit Mathias Onah.
Pastor Mathias Onah, senior minister with Redeemed Christian Church of God, Otukpo. Credit Mathias Onah.

Pastor Mathias Onah, a senior minister with Redeem Church, Otukpo told Truth Nigeria that the Fulani terrorists were invited by Fulanis living in Benue who felt that they should be accepted as indigenes of Benue.

“It is the Fulanis who lived in our midst and who felt that they should become Benue indigenes that  have invited the terrorists,” Onah said.

“They feel that if the terrorists continue killing, we shall succumb and seek peace, which must include accepting Fulanis as indigenes of Benue,” he added.

“Many of the Fulanis are not happy with the anti-open grazing laws that ban open grazing and restricted movement of terrorists,” Pastor Onah went on to say.

“So they decided to violate the ban by moving heavily armed terrorists along with their cattle into Benue and breaking the law. Even the forest rangers are afraid of them.

Political Ambition of Former Governor Cited as Force Behind Invasion

Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria (SGF) George Akume. Credit Benue State Archives.
Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria (SGF) George Akume. Credit Benue State Archives.

According to Onah, the Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria (SGF), George Akume, a native of Benue State, is currently locked in a political battle with Governor Hyacinth Alia over the anti-open-grazing law and whether to allow Fulanis to settle in Benue and claim the political rights of natives.

“Akume, who is seeking to contest for the presidency by 2027, is of the opinion that by allowing Fulanis to become Benue indigenes (natives), he stands a good chance of getting elected with the support of the Fulanis at the federal level.

“He is encouraging Fulanis to break the anti-open-grazing law and go to Benue, while the governor is against the influx of Fulanis into the state,” Onah said to Truthnigeria.

Mike Odeh James and Alex Agbo are conflict reporters for TruthNigeria.

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