The police in Benue State have arrested eight herdsmen over the killing on Monday of 20 residents of Guma and Logo Local Government councils.
Police spokesman Moses Yamu said in a statement that “eight herdsmen, six in Guma and two in Logo, have been arrested in connection with the attacks.”
He said the command had made additional deployments in the area to forestall further occurrence and restore confidence.
Yamu stressed that the situation in the two local government areas had been brought under control while investigation was ongoing.
He said: “They attacked Tomater village in Sengev Council ward, Akor village in Nzorov council ward and Bakin Kwata village in Umanger council ward of Guma LGA.
“Among those killed were seven (7) members of Benue State Livestock Guards, their vehicle burnt and an uncertain number of persons injured in separate attacks between 31/12/2017 and 02/01/2018.
“Again, Agba-Uko near Azege village and Tse-Aga village of Logo LGA experienced the same fate, where one person was killed, one motorcycle burnt and four persons injured.
“All the injured from both LGAs are currently undergoing treatment in various hospitals in the state.”
According to him, five combined teams of mobile and conventional policemen, led by Assistant Commissioner of Police, Operations, ACP Emmanuel Adesina have engaged the armed herdsmen in a gun duel in Guma.
The Benue Anti-Open Grazing Law came into effect on November 1, 2017 to forestall attacks on Benue communities by suspected herders.
The law stipulates five year jail term or an option of N1 million fine for violators.
The attack is the first by suspected herdsmen since the law came into effect.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN),Benue State chapter, accused the Presidency of prolonged silence over the killings of Benue citizens by Fulani herdsmen.
Its chairman Rev. Akpen Leva told reporters after meeting with Governor Ortom yesterday at the Benue Peoples House, that President Muhammadu Buhari should protect Benue people from the militia.
The CAN chairman said they had organised a three-day prayer and fasting for all Christians to seek God’s intervention in the matter,saying as a Christian State, Benue would resort to praying to God.
House of Assembly Speaker Terkimbi Ikyange blamed the killings on the inability of the Federal Government to take threats by the Cattle Breeders Association serious.
Mr. Ikyange recalled that, when the national leadership of the cattle breeders association, under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, openly threatened to mobilise herdsmen across the country to oppose the implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition Law, the Assembly in a unanimous resolution, called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector-General of Police to get them arrested.
He lamented that in spite of the threats and subsequent reaction by the Assembly and Benue State Government, no efforts were made by the Presidency and other security operatives to prevent them from carrying out their well-planned attack against the defenseless people.
Ikyange described the attack as barbaric and an affront on the rule of law, stressing that the resolve of Benue people to stop open grazing is unwavering.
The Ushongo representative re-echoed the call for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the national leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore as a way of halting the renewed violence against Benue communities.