The death toll in some villages of Guma Local Government Area in Benue State has reached 10. The killings in Guma area, which occurred separately on Sunday at different locations, involved two humanitarian workers, according to witnesses.
Caleb Aba, chairman of Guma Local Government Area, told newsmen in Makurdi on Monday that four of the victims were killed in Mbabai council ward and three in Nzorov council ward, with one more killed at night in Uvir council ward of Guma.
In blaming the attacks on suspected herders, Aba said he was baffled by the resurgence of attacks on his people, since there had been no reported conflict between the villagers and herders.
Additionally, the chairman stated that the three dead bodies in Nzorov, including two aid workers, were evacuated by Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS).
Witnesses said armed herders allegedly killed six people and two aid workers employed by 360HSCD, a non-governmental organization that tests and counsels about HIV/AIDS in Benue state, adding that the bodies of the two aid workers were later recovered from OPWS.
The villager said the aid workers were first seized by the gunmen before they were killed, and that when the villager called their captors’ telephone numbers, they confirmed the killings and insisted the killings would continue until Governor Samuel Ortom repealed the open grazing prohibition law.
Ibrahim Galma, Secretary of the Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), said two herders were killed in border areas between Benue and Nasarawa States on Monday.
Galma, who denied his members were involved in the killings of eight people in Guma on Sunday, said he only learned that two herders were killed at the border from a Nasarawa source.
Despite this, he said those herders were based in Nasarawa state since many of them moved there after the grazing law was enacted, adding that he was unable to speak on behalf of those not in his jurisdiction.
Flying Officer Audu Katty of OPWS’s Public Relations Office (PRO) has denied the killings, saying that “Nothing like that happened.”
DSP Catherine Anene, Police Spokesperson for Benue Command, confirmed the incident.
“Three people were attacked and killed on their way to a farm in Tomanyiin, Guma Local Government Area of Benue state,” Anene said.