Fulani herdsmen grazing in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria, have reportedly fled the zone and are now settling in some Benue communities.
The Fulani herdsmen are according to reports now settling in some communities in Ogbadibo, Okpokwu, Ado and other Local Government Areas of Benue State.
It is believed that the invasion may not be unconnected with the current unrest in the South-east, birthed by the activities of IPOB’s Eastern Security Network (ESN) to stop the activities of herdsmen in the region.
The recent resolve by the Southern Governors who banned open grazing in the region may have also triggered the sudden relocation to neighbouring communities.
Reports have it that the communities in the aforementioned Local Government Areas are neighbouring villages to some parts of Enugu and Ebonyi States.
Ogbadibo and parts of Okpokwu are bordered by Udenu Local Government of Enugu State while parts of Ado, particularly the Agila community is bordered by Ebele village, Ngbo in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
It was gathered that the herders are currently settling in some of the communities, triggering tension in the areas.
An opinion leader and head of a community in Owukpa in Ogbadibo, Chief Akogwu Agada said that some parts of the community have been occupied by the herdsmen.
“They are everywhere here in Owukpa but their major base is in Ankpa. They have clashed with our farmers several times due to the destruction of crops by their cattle.
“We will be glad if the government can come to our aid to chase them out of our land before they resort to attacking and killings us here”, Chief Akogwu noted.
Mr Apochi Adams from Ichama in Okpokwu Local Government and a member of the recently disbanded vigilante group also narrated a similar incident.
Adams said there is no part of the community that the herdsmen are not using for grazing.
“We have clashed with them several times trying to send them away from our land but they always resist”.
Also, Mr James Adoga, a farmer, from Orokamu in Ogbadibo, lamented how his casava plantation was destroyed by the herders who grazed on his farm.
Adoga revealed that the herders stormed the community recently with their cattle, family and other property to settle in some of the villages.
In his words, “We are helpless in this place. Farming is the only business we use to survive and the Fulani men have come to destroy our only source of hope.
“When we see them on our land, and we complain, they threaten to kill us and due to news we have been getting from far places, we have no courage to confront them.”
This development is coming despite the efforts of the state government to enforce the open grazing prohibition law across the 23 LGs of the state.
The state governor, Samuel Ortom in 2017 signed the Anti-Open Grazing bills into law as a measure to end the incessant crisis between farmers and herdsmen.
However, the herders who were angered by the law, have continued to unleash terror on residents of communities in relatively all parts of the state.
Recently, there was a surge in the deadly attacks as many residents have been butchered while over one million others were displaced across the three senatorial districts in the state.
Armed men suspected to be Fulani militias, on Thursday night killed 36 residents of Shikaan Mbagena Kpav community in Katsina-Ala Local Government Area of the state.
The armed men invaded the community and slaughtered scores at midnight when residents were fast asleep. 36 bodies were recovered while an unspecified number of persons sustained various degrees of injuries.
Recently, gunmen suspected to be herdsmen also attacked the Tse Amgbem community near Aondoana in Gwer West Local Government Area of the State, killing 11 persons as residents deserted the community and increased the number of Internally Displaced Persons camped across the state.
The Gwer West Local Government Chairman, Mrs Grace Igbabon who confirmed the incident to DAILY POST, lamented how his people were sacked from their ancestral homes by the militias.
Similarly, a few weeks ago, about seven persons were confirmed dead, with many others injured, after armed Fulani herdsmen attacked Abagena community housing Internally Displaced Persons’ camp in Makurdi Local government Area of the State.
Subsequently, the youths, who were angered by the killings, stormed the Makurdi-Lafia road with the lifeless bodies of the deceased to protest incessant attacks on their communities.
Reacting, the State Governor, Samuel Ortom in a statement, described the attack on the IDPs camp as inhuman, barbaric and unacceptable. The Governor called on President Muhammadu Buhari to live up to his responsibility of protecting the lives of Nigerians.
Same week, more than 17 persons were confirmed dead while many others injured after militia herdsmen attacked Tse-Ayeli village, Tse-Gborigyo and Udam in Mbayer-Yandev in Guma Local Government Area of the State.
Recall that on March 20, 2021, the governor narrowly escaped death when militia herdsmen launched an attack on his convoy while returning from his farm at Tyo-mu along Makurdi – Gboko road.
However, Ortom recently told residents of the state to defend themselves with Dane guns and other weapons not prohibited by the law, when attacked by gunmen.
He gave the directive at an inter-denominational church service held at the government house in Makurdi, Benue capital on Sunday, May 23.
In his words, “I will no longer announce the deaths of those killed by Fulani herdsmen, rise and defend yourselves with weapons not prohibited by law, bows and arrows, spears and knives.
“Get a licence for Dane guns from local government chairmen and use them to defend yourselves.
“God assured me some time back that as long as I lived within the circle of his presence, no weapon fashioned against me shall prosper