Benue State, known as Nigeria’s food basket, is grappling with an escalating crisis as heavily armed herdsmen, reportedly clad in military camouflage, target residents in over 200 villages. The toll over the past three months has been staggering, with over 500 lives allegedly lost in three local government areas within Benue South Senatorial District.
Villages in Otukpo, Apa, and Agatu LGAs are particularly affected, with marauders butchering locals, burning homes, and leaving numerous residents missing. Despite pointing fingers at ‘Fulani herdsmen,’ the perpetrators remain elusive, posing a severe challenge to security forces.
Idoma youths, armed with limited resources, are facing around 700 heavily armed men in military attire, with reports of sophisticated weaponry. The crisis has led to a dire situation where volunteers are pleading for government intervention, emphasizing the attackers’ mission to erase the Idoma community from Nigeria’s map.
In a video circulating online, volunteers on the battlefield reveal the gravity of the situation, with attackers shooting on sight and engaging in what appears to be a systematic assault on the Idoma community. The military, including Operation Whirl Stroke, has not been spared, losing three members in a coordinated attack by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Agatu.
Despite community volunteer guards established to enhance security, they find themselves grappling with helplessness due to a lack of support and attention from the government. Senator Abba Patrick Moro has raised the issue in the Senate, calling for intervention and decrying the lack of arrests in the face of persistent attacks.
The Idoma Association USA strongly criticizes both state and federal governments for not taking decisive action, urging leaders to confront the war of attrition in Benue. Meanwhile, the OPWS Force Commander assures ongoing operations to track the marauders and fulfill the mandate to ensure the security of lives and properties in the Force Joint Operations Area.