May 13, 2013 – Fulani Herdsmen Killed 47 Mourners Of Police Officers In Agatu, Benue State During Burial
The recurrent bloody conflict between Fulani herdsmen and Benue farmers took a dangerous dimension at the weekend, when no fewer than 47 mourners were gunned down by suspected herdsmen in Agatu local government area of the state, while carrying out the burial rites of two police officers killed last Tuesday in Nasarawa state.
This is just as no fewer than five Police men were reportedly shot at the weekend by irate youths who were protesting the citing of a private university by the Senate President, David Mark, at Asa 111 in Otukpo local government area of the state.
Vanguard gathered from a reliable source in Agatu that the herdsmen stormed Okpachanyi village on Sunday Morning at the middle of the burial rites and shot sporadically at the mourners, killing their victims at the spot while many escaped with bullet wounds.
“The burial rites of the two slain Police men were going on at Okpachanyi village when the armed herdsmen stormed the scene and opened fire on the mourners, killing and maiming the people while many escaped with bullet wounds,” he said.
At the time of filing this report, the state government had dispatched the Deputy Governor, Chief Steven Lawani and top government functionaries from the area to Agatu for an on the spot assessment of the situation.
Meanwhile Vanguard gathered from an eyewitness in Otukpo that armed irate youths had last week barricaded the Otukpo/Oju federal highway in protest of the decision of their leaders to allot parcels of land to the Senate President for the erection of a new institution.
According to the source,”While Akpegede and Otobi communities gave the Senate President the go ahead to use their land, the youths in Asa 111, which is a renown hotbed for opposition politics in Benue South senatorial district, are resisting the establishment of a university in their community.
“They barricaded the road for several days which prompted the decision of the Police to intervene at the weekend with the use of teargas canisters to disperse the resilient youths in order to allow motorists and pedestrians the use of the road.
“But unfortunately, the action of the Police was resisted by the youths who fired shots at them , injuring five of the Police men in the process,” he said.
Reacting to the development after a consultative meeting convened by the Och’Otukpo Odu, Chief John Eimonye and attended by district heads, elders, stakeholders as well as opinion leaders of Otukpo, the community frowned at the action of the youths which was considered to be militant and anti developmental and requested that the perpetrators of the dastardly act be brought to book.
In his reaction, spokesman of the community and 78 year-old retired Army Captain, Reuben Anyebe described the action of the youths as ‘barbaric and unfortunate’, wondering why anybody would protest the initiative of the senate president which he said has several developmental opportunities.
The chairman of Otukpo local government council, Dr Innocent Onuh who lamented the ugly development and attack on the police however commended the security operatives for their restraint even in the face of the attack.
However, Vanguard gathered from some of the irate youths of Asa 111 that they embarked on the protest to demand better compensation for their farmland which would be used for the proposed institution.
In his reaction the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO in the state, Deputy Superintendent of Police Daniel Ezeala said his office was yet to get the full details of the crisis.