No fewer than 145 suspects have been arrested by the police over the killings in Benue State.
Of these suspects, 124 have been charged to court. The rest are under investigation.
Sixteen suspects have been arrested in connection with the gruesome murder of seven persons believed to be Fulani in Gboko by some Tiv youths on January 31.
It was learnt that intelligence reports have linked the killings to the heinous activities of herdsmen; Shittile militias of Katsina-Ala, livestock guards of Ukum Local Government Area, and activities of vigilance and Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF).
These are contained in the fact-sheet made available to the Senate Joint Committee, drawn from Police Affairs and Intelligence committees, by the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris on Friday.
The report was made available to members of the joint committee which was raised for fact-finding.
Part of the report, which was obtained by our correspondent, indicated that the killings in Benue State had complications with attendant ethnic tone.
Part of the report said: “From the beginning of the crisis on 30th December to date, a total of 145 suspects were arrested. Out of which 124 suspects were charged to court while 21 suspects are under investigations and waiting to be charged to court.
“Apart from being in constant touch with the governors of Benue and Nasarawa states, the Police Force has intensified deployments with five more units of PMF personnel bringing the total to 10 PMF Units, a unit of Police Special Force, Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU), Explosive Ordinance Department (EOD) to Benue State and five additional units of PMF to Nasarawa State respectively, while aerial surveillance has been intensified in the two states.”
Some of those arrested and placed on trial were suspected herdsmen, including Saidu Gai, Ibrahim Baruwa; Ibrahim AlhajiTanko; Ibrahim Abubakar; Magaji Alhaji Yau; Jibrin Adamu; Ibrahim Sale and Sabiu Alhaji.
The report traced many attacks to herdsmen militia from January 1, 2018 to January 24 in places like Tomatar in Sangev district ward of Guma Local Government Area; Bokin Kwalta; Yogbo village under Sumo Local Government Area; Tse-Urende village in Logo Local Government; Tse-Mbakgihir village in Logo Government; Tse-Akombo village in Mbaniage district of Logo Local Government; Ukyongu village Guma LGA; and Angbayre (2)Toregena and (3) Anguri all in Benue State but near Kadarko in Nasarawa State among others
The report added: “On 25/01/2018 at 1200hrs, two visiting PMF units from 20 and 32 led by their respective unit commanders while on patrol at Sati village Gama LGA were ambushed by a group suspected to be pastoralists, in the process Insp. Abdullahi Isiaka was shot and wounded on the leg, he is being treated at Gbajimba General hospital.
“While Sgt. Solomon Dung was reported missing. Search for him has been intensified. However, on 25/01/2018 Police team from Awe axis of Nasarawa State Command arrested the following suspects: namely (1) Haruna Koligi (2) Isah Mallam all Fulani herdsmen in connection with the above attack. Equally arrested were Pastor Kudun Clifford, Umar Mahamud and Yahaya Mohammed Doso for gun running while six Plateau indigenes namely Danalami Audu, Mark Fidelix, Danjuma Basuk, James Tabir, Bitrus Dashi, Nyamge Elias and Tanko David for culpable homicide. All the suspects were charged to court for their respective offences mentioned above.”
Apart from the herdsmen, there were also some attacks attributed to Shitile Militia and Civilian JTF and Livestock guards.
About 573 of the houses were rated as “thatched” which indicated that villagers were mostly victims.
One of those who lost their houses was the Security Adviser to the Benue State Governor whose house was razed in Alaba.
“In view of the foregoing, there is indeed no doubt that the implementation of Anti-Open Grazing Law by the Benue State government as expressed by stakeholders in Nasarawa State and Ayim in Benue State, is the root cause of the crisis.
“ This is exacerbated by the recruitment and arming of untrained Civilian JTF/Livestock Guards with prohibited firearms whose composition is lopsided and comprising majorly persons of Tiv Ethnic Nationality.”
On the murder of seven Fulani in Gboko on January 31 by some suspected Tiv youths, the intelligence report also confirmed the arrest of 16 suspects.
It said: “On 31/01/2018 at about 1000hrs, 7 persons believed to be Fulanis were attacked md murdered by Suspected Tiv youths at Gboko LGA. The victims were attacked while boarding a commercial motor vehicle to Tamba State and their bodies were callously set ablaze.
“The Commissioner of Police, Benue Command led police teams to Gboko and restored normalcy. Sixteen suspects were arrested namely: Akaazua Kuleve; Bem Asangu; Solomon Kaah; Terkaa Toona ; Tertseu Iyombee; John Kumbul; Boniface Nyltamen; Baba Tsoho; Terwase Yisa ; Terese Zelemon ; Onyebuchi Ugwu; Shimawa Chiuma; Simon Koko; Samuel Koko; Samuel Terhemba; and Terfa Gogo;.”
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has lifted the curfew imposed on Gboko after the killings.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the governor on Media and ICT , Tahav Agerzua, said the governor made the announcement at a meeting he held with leaders of the Benue Motorcycle Association across the state and heads of security agencies at the Benue Peoples House.
The statement said: “Governor Ortom reiterated his condemnation of the killings at the Gboko motor park but maintained that the victims were not Fulani people as reported in some quarters.
“The governor insisted that the criminals who carried out the condemnable act should be apprehended and prosecuted.
“He urged the people not to take the laws into the hands but to report infringements on their rights to the appropriate authorities.
“The governor expressed appreciation to the motorcycle association for its pledge to assist in tackling the security challenges in the state.
“It could be recalled that a dusk to dawn curfew was imposed on Gboko town on 31st January, 2018, following security threats in the area.”
The report recommended the following solutions to the incessant killings in Benue State.
It said: “From the foregoing, it can be seen that the Police is doing all that it could to restore normalcy in the state However, this can be effectively achieved by
(i)The state government, all relevant stakeholders as well as the citizens to engage in dialogue for a peaceful coexistence in the state.
(ii.) The state to take a re-visit of the Anti-Open Grazing and Establishment of Ranches Law of the State with the aim of first providing ranches with the aim of a gradual implementation.
(iii.) Re-establishment or bringing out of known cattle routes that hitherto used to exist.
(iv.) Disbandment and disarming of the livestock guards. Shitile Tiv militias and any other militias groups in order to forestall prohibited firearms in hands of unauthorized individuals.
(v), Adequate funding and increase in manpower for the Nigeria Police Force in other to meet all the requirements for effective policing of the nation.
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