Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam came under gun attack from suspected Fulani herdsmen yesterday.
The herdsmen – carrying sophisticated guns – have been attacking Tiv indigenes, killing and maiming villagers.
Suswam was on his way from the state capital, Makurdi to a displaced persons’ camp in Guma Local Government, when he was attacked at Tse Akenyi.
An eye witness said the governor’s trip was smooth until the convoy got to Tse Akenyi junction that leads to Torkula village. The herdsmen, on sighting the governor’s convoy, reportedly came out from the bush and fired at the vehicles.
The governor’s security detail repelled the attackers, who were said to be carrying sophisticated weapons.
In spite of the attack, a visibly shaken Suswan continued his journey and visited Gbajimba, the administrative headquarters of Guma Local Government where he addressed the displaced persons.
Suswam told people to take their destiny in their hands. He said: “I salute each and every one of you for your courage and steadfastness throughout this period. This is beyond the herdsmen; this is real war.
“On my way to this place, they exchanged gun shots with us for over one hour before we were able to come here.
“My people are being killed, butchered and their homes destroyed. So, if the security agents, especially the military, cannot provide security for us, we will defend ourselves.
“I cannot abandon you people at this point in time to die. You voted me to provide security for you and I must do that for you.
“These Fulani are not like the real Fulani we used to know.
“Please return to your homes and defend your land, do not allow anybody to make you slaves in your home land,’’ he said.
Local Government Chairman Frank Adi condemned the continuous killings of his people and destruction of their homes by the herdsmen.
Adi, who was represented by his deputy, Mr Godwin Viashima, appealed to the government to provide them with security operatives to safe guard the citizens.
Suswam assured the people that government would do everything possible to restore normalcy to various homes. He said the government would not allow invaders to take over their ancestral homes.
At Ukpam village, virtually all the houses were razed while decomposed bodies littered the farming community. The governor ordered the evacuation o f six bodies to Makurdi, the state capital, for burial.
The governor went round other affected communities. The worst hit villages are Ukpam, Waku, Torkula, and Kaseyo.