Facts are emerging on the major cause of the invasion and killings of people by armed herders in Benue State.
The PUNCH reports that armed herders had turned communities in the state into killing fields with severe attacks on Igbobi, Umogidi and Mgban communities of Apa, Otukpo and Guma local government areas of the state respectively penultimate week leading to the death of about 130 people.
Consequently, the State Government ordered the suspension of the activities of livestock guards for two weeks to allow for an investigation into alleged cases of cattle rustling in some parts of the state.
However, the Benue Police Command on Wednesday paraded nine suspected rustlers who conspired with criminal herders to rustle cows and shared the proceeds.
The State Command spokesperson, Catherine Anene, who paraded them said that the suspects “specialised in rustling of cattle that fueled killings in the state.”
Anene said, “In recent times, the investigation into herder/farmer conflict in most Local Governments reveals that some hoodlums from both herder and farms clans have been fueling crises in these areas for their own gain. There is a need to identify these criminal elements and deal with them in accordance with the laws
“On 10/4/2020 at about 1700hrs. Men of Operation Zenda JTF on patrol in Guma Local Government Area intercepted and arrested one Terwase Nyion aka Orjen and three others while others fled from the scene.”
She added, “On 16/4/2023 at about 1700hrs, information was received that some hoodlums had attacked herders grazing in Tarkaa Local Government Area and made away with some cattle.
“Police detectives in the area immediately stormed their hideout and arrested the following persons: Terdoo Tyo, Meryima Dziegh, Jimeshio Dziegh, Tahar Dziegh and Mercy Iyio who was already preparing cow meat in the kitchen.”
The PPRO further said that investigation revealed that the syndicate usually conspired with criminal herders to rustle cattle, sell and share the proceeds.
“They go back to the same victims (herders) to deceive them that their cattle were rustled by farmers so as to create crises and have more opportunity to loot from innocent persons.
She listed the items recovered from them to include: one locally made pistol loaded with one round of 9mm live ammunition and four cows, adding that “suspects confessed to be a vicious syndicate made up of herders & farmers”.