Gunmen ,who attacked Igama, a rural community in Benue State on Sunday morning, killed 37, residents of the community told PREMIUM TIMES.
A survivor, Ambrose Adah, said the attackers raided the community while he and his family were preparing for Mass.
Igama, an agrarian community, located in Okpokwu Local Government area, is 160 kilometres from Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
“While we were preparing for the early morning Mass on Sunday, herdsmen in large numbers riding on motorbikes, invaded our community,” Mr Adah said.
“Members of our community mostly women and youths were killed during the attack.
“So far 37 corpses have been recovered and presently deposited at St Mary’s General Hospital, Okpoga,” the headquarters of Okpokwu Local Government.
“My three-bedroom bungalow and other valuables were destroyed by the herdsmen,” Mr Adah disclosed in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Monday.
He added: “Dozens of houses were razed to the ground,” while over 500 hundred residents who were displaced by the attack are seeking shelter at Ojigo ward, and other neighbouring communities.
To forestall further attacks, Mr Adah appealed to the federal government to station a military base in the area.
Corroborating Mr Adah’s claim, the federal lawmaker representing Ado, Ogbadibo and Okpokwu federal constituency, Francis Otta, told Channels Television in a statement that thirty persons were killed in the attack on the Igama community.
“Growing up in Utonkon District of Ado LGA, I knew Igama in Ojigo Ward of Okpokwu LGA as one of the most peaceful communities in Benue South until recently when terrorists turned it to a cesspool of blood,” Mr Ottah was quoted to have said in the statement.
“I, therefore, condemn the killing of 30 innocent people, and still counting… I have contacted security agents who have responded appropriately,” the lawmaker said.
Authorities confirm attack
Amina Audu, the chairperson of Okpokwu Local Government, confirmed the incident. She, however, said only 12 corpses have been recovered.
She said the attackers ravaged the two communities– Igama and Efeche, and hundreds of people have been displaced by the attack.
“The attack has occasioned a humanitarian crisis, not just at Igama but at Opialu, Ojigo and Utonkon, where survivors have fled to,” Ms Audu told this reporter in a telephone interview on Monday.
The local council boss said security operatives comprising the police, military and vigilantes, are patrolling the affected communities.
The Benue state police spokesperson, Sewuese Anene, confirmed the attack, but could not provide details on the casualties.
In a text message to this reporter, Ms Sewuese said: “Information was received about the attack in Okpokwu LGA and more teams were mobilized to assist the Division on the ground. I am yet to receive details from the team on the ground.”
The state has been under persistent deadly attacks allegedly perpetrated by herdsmen.
In April, 15 people were killed in an overnight raid on Tior-Tyu, a rural community in Tarka Local Government. The attack was blamed on the herdsmen militia.
Clashes between nomadic herdsmen and farming communities are rampant in Benue, a largely agrarian state. (Premium Times)