Despite the deployment of soldiers to Agatu Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue State to forestall the attacks by Fulani herdsmen that have invaded the area, the people of Agatu have said that they would not return to their homes until government secures six communities that have become a major entry point by herdsmen to carry out attacks on them.
The Agatu people who made this known at Okokolo when Samuel Ortom , the State Governor, paid a sympathy visit to the ravaged communities, noted that six communities that border Gwer West LGA of the state and Nasarawa LGA of Nasarawa State were still under siege by the invaders.
The people told the state government they would not return to their homes as the areas was still porous for the herdsmen to penetrate and cause mayhem on their people.
They also noted that since 2012 they have lost over 900 people to the crisis, adding they were worse hit in the renewed crisis that started in February 2016.
Giving a breakdown of lives lost, Chief Godwin Onah, the Ad’ Agatu, said communities in Agatu lost over 300 persons since the crisis commenced in 2012 but had the highest casualty of over 600 persons since February this year.
“Since the beginning of these constant attacks and killings, we have on record that about 900 lives of Agatu people have been lost. This (last two months) recent barbaric attacks and mayhem by the Fulani herdsmen on the people of Agatu had claimed over 600 lives,” he said.
Earlier at Aila, Chief John Atenyi, the Odejo K’Apa, who represented the Ochi Idoma, Agaba Idu, HRH, Elias Obekpa told the governor that the communities that were still under siege include Ocholoya, Akpeko, Olegomaku, Olegonyilo, Nahim and Olegoteku.
He said: “If these people (Fulani mercenaries) are not stopped in these areas, there is no way our people (Agatu people) will return” to their homes.
Obekpa appealed for reinforcements of the affected areas with soldiers to ward off any future attacks, adding that government should consider the setting up of an Army barracks in Agatu as a permanent solution to the frequent invasion of their ancestral homes.
Responding, Governor Samuel Ortom who described the damage done in the area as “monumental” noted that government was not sleeping on its oars but was working assiduously to ensure that peace was restored and the people return to their homes.
He pledged to convey their worries to President Muhammadu Buhari as part of measures to ensure that security was enhanced so that the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) return to their homes.
Ortom warned youths in the area against any form of reprisal attacks.
A minute silence was observed for the souls of the departed.