Members of the House of Representatives from Benue State on Thursday raised the alarm over fresh killings by herdsmen in the state.
The lawmakers, who spoke at the National Assembly in Abuja, demanded full military presence in Benue communities constantly under attacks by herdsmen as against ad hoc operations such as the current Operation Cat Race.
For instance, between April 2 and 4, the lawmakers said, up to 24 persons were confirmed killed in renewed attacks in the state, while several others went missing.
The lawmakers again called on the Federal Government to declare the herdsmen as “terrorists.”
Four members, Mr. Dickson Takighir; Mr. Mark Terseer-Gbillah; Mr. Samuel Udende; and Mr. John Dyegh, who spoke for the Benue Caucus, alleged that some of the killings took place with no response from security agencies.
The lawmakers also described as strange the sudden termination of the Operation Cat Race in the state by the military, while it was extended by more weeks in neighbouring states, including Taraba.
Giving the details of the latest killings, Takighir said, “These latest attacks have occurred in Ikyon and Agasha on April 3 and April 4; in Semaka, Asom, Babanruwa on April 3 and in Udei and Umenger on April 2.
“They (killer herdsmen) are right now stationed at Nzorov council ward, ready to attack Gbajimba in the Guma Local Government Area. There are others in Nasarawa, ready to attack Udei and Daudu with over 14 people killed in the last four days.
“Similarly, Sengev, Mbakyondo and Mbapa areas of Gwer-West Local Government Area are currently under siege by armed herdsmen.
“In Tsegaase, two people have been killed; one person is missing in Zwatema, two killed in Tse Adeke, one killed in Tse Adudu with one missing in Tsekelefu.
“So far, we have yet to confirm the casualty level in Enger. On April 3, four people were killed in Anyebe and one person at Mbavihi both in Tonbo ward of Logo local government.”
The lawmakers stated that these killings took place despite the military Operation Cat Race.
They said the people of Benue were further alarmed when in spite of the renewed killings, the military terminated its Operation Cat Race.
The lawmakers called on the government to deploy troops in the affected communities for full operations against the herdsmen.
Takighir said, “We are calling on the Federal Government to immediately explain to Benue indigenes and the Nigerian people why the Operation Cat Race has already been terminated in Benue without a resolution of the issue.
“We also demand that the government should deploy a proper military operation in Benue State and to also station military units in restive communities in Benue until the herdsmen menace has been dealt with.
“We urge the Federal Government to immediately declare these deadly herdsmen as terrorists in view of their inhuman, volatile and destructive activities. The international community should pay more attention to this ongoing pogrom of Benue people; we appeal for their intervention in the provision of aid to the over 190,000 internally displaced persons at different camps in Benue State.
“We believe it is only when these criminal and vicious elements are properly designated and treated as terrorists that the spate of killings will be put to rest.”