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Fulani Terrorists Shoot Benue Politician on His Farm, Abduct Wife and Helper

Analysts say the Nigerian government deliberately encourages attacks

By Mike Odeh James and Alex Agbo

(Kaduna) Nigerian military may be decimating camps of the Fulani terrorists in Zamfara, Katsina, and Kaduna – all in Northwest Nigeria — but the shooting of a high-profile politician Friday portends a spreading crime pandemic in Benue State.

A former aide to ex-Governor Samuel Ortom, Terwase Orbunde,  is recovering from a bullet wound to his right forearm after being shot at his farm near Angus Frazer Memorial College at Welfare Quarters Road, Makurdi County, on Friday, April 12.  Five men were attempting  to kidnap him and his family.

However, the bloodshed perpetuated by the terrorists, which is also accompanied by kidnapping for ransom by the terrorists, has gradually been extended to the higher-ups in society.

Orbunde in recovery room of hospital April 12, 2024.
Orbunde in recovery room of hospital April 12, 2024.

Speaking exclusively to TruthNigeria, Mr. Orbunde denied that his ordeal was politically motivated.

“I was trailed to the farm, where I went to inspect my farm workers. Heavy-armed men who emerged from the surrounding bush shot at me, and after wounding me, they abducted my wife, Mrs. Abigail Kashimana Orbunde, and our housemaid, Patience Ogute,” Orbunde said. But similar attacks have happened to so many other members of our community, so I don’t think it was politically inspired,” he said.

“It was obvious from their looks and the language they spoke that they were Fulanis. They communicated in Fulfude and in Hausa.

Terwase, who also contested the 2023 gubernatorial primary election, revealed that after shooting him in the arm, the Fulani terrorists told him to go home, adding that they would soon call him to demand ransom money afterwards and that his wife and house help would be released.

The terrorists would later call, demanding N100,000 million, which is equivalent to $82,500.

TruthNigeria Nigeria also called the police spokesperson in Benue, Catherine Anene; she confirmed the shooting of Orbunde and the abductions. However, she pledged that the kidnappers would soon be apprehended.

Benue at Ground Zero of Nigerian Terrorism

Terrorist attacks on Benue State.

SEE: A list of attacks on Benue since 2013.

The central state of Benue has suffered a steady drumbeat of terrorist attacks in recent years. On Tuesday, April 9, 2024, 15 victims of the attack were given mass burials at Mbakyor, a town approximately 100 miles southeast of the state capital of Makurdi. The Deputy Governor of Benue State, Barrister Samuel Ode, who represented Governor Samuel Alia at the burial, noted that all hands must be on deck to deal with terrorism, which Nigerians frame with the euphemism “insecurity” in the state.

However, many analysts and political observers in Nigeria have decried the inability of the federal government to deal with the menace of banditry and terrorism in Benue.

“It is like the Federal Government is having two policies: hit the terrorists hard in the Northwest, hit Boko Haram members hard in the Northeast, but go soft on the terrorists in Benue, Plateau, and Southern Kaduna,” said Mordecai Funom, a military expert and a former military officer to TruthNigeria.

“Why is the Army not using drones and other technology to go after terrorists in Benue? Why is the Air Force not bombarding hideouts and camps of terrorists in Benue like they are doing in Zamfara, Kaduna, Sokoto, and Katsina?” asked  Funom in an interview with TruthNigeria.

Former Commissioner at the United Nations Human Rights Commission, David Onyilokwu Idah, also corroborated Funom’s assertion.

“There was a deliberate policy by the former President, Muhammadu Buhari, to ignore or downplay the attacks, killings, and kidnappings by Fulani terrorists in Benue State and in Plateau,” according to Idah.

“The President then, at one point, accused the former governor of Benue State of exaggerating the atrocities committed by Fulani terrorists in Benue,” said Idah.

“He would later accuse Samuel Ortom of inciting Benue residents against the Fulanis,” Idah added.

“Incidentally, the former President [Muhammadu Buhari] was very critical of the anti-open-grazing law that the government of the state under Ortom enacted in order to curb the violent activities of Fulani terrorists. Therefore, he did little to boost security in the Benue Valley. That itself was a criminal thing to do,” Idah said.

New Administration, Same Old Policy:

With the coming of President Bola Tinubu, elected Feb. 25, 2023, many Benue residents believed that the Federal Government would take the issue of terrorism in Benue Valley seriously by deploying massive military force to deal with the situation.

However, security experts consulted by TruthNigeria expressed pessimism.  Retired Col. Hassan Stan Labbo, in an exclusive chat with TruthNigeria, lamented that “nothing has changed on a political or strategic level.” He pointed to the former governor of Zamfara State, who is now the minister of defense.

“Nothing has changed, because with ministers like Bello Matawalle, you can be sure that the President would only be getting advice on how to negotiate with terrorists or how to grant amnesty to them,” Labbo said.

“Furthermore, they may not advise President Bola Tinubu to adopt the hardline tactics of the military similar to those implemented in the Northwest.

—Mike Odoh James in Kaduna and Alex Agbo in Lagos are conflict reporters for TruthNigeria. 

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