Benue’s bloody Friday: Survivors recall ugly experience | #NwokeukwuMascot
Good Friday in the Christians’ Easter calendar is known as the day Jesus was crucified.
The people of the Ngban community, a sleepy town along Makurdi-Lafia federal highway in Nyiev, Guma Local Government Area, Benue State, went to bed on a Good Friday, looking forward to celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ the following Sunday as it is the tradition.
Fate, however, had something different in store for them as suspected herdsmen said to number more than 60 and armed with sophisticated weapons stormed the community between 8 and 9 pm, slaughtering no fewer than 38 people.
Most of the victims were internally displaced persons, who were displaced from their various communities as a result of incessant attacks by herdsmen, with the Local Government Education Authority (LGEA) Primary School classrooms serving as their home.
Children and women squat in one block of the classroom while elderly men used another block to sleep. Policemen also turned another block into a security post.
One of the internally displaced persons (IDPs), who survived the attack, Mrs. Nyiehemba Utor, told The Nation that at about the time the marauders stormed the temporary IDPs camp, they overwhelmed security men attached to them and the security men fled, leaving them at the mercy of the gunmen.
Utor also said she watched helplessly as her 12-year-old son was butchered to death with a cutlass by the suspected herdsmen.
“They killed my son in my presence using a cutlass to cut his neck into pieces,” said Utor.
The traditional ruler of Nyiev District, Chief Bernard Shawa, was also not lucky as two of his children, Sewuese and Denen, were killed in the dawn attack.
Chief Shawa, speaking with the Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, who was at the scene of the attack to sympathise with the victims, said the gunmen stormed the community and set houses ablaze.
“After setting houses ablaze, they shot into the air, and in the melee that ensued, people ran helter-skelter and they gunned them down, cut the children into pieces and killed pregnant women and opened their wombs.
He said there had been several attacks in the same manner before those who were displaced decided to seek refuge in the primary school so that security men would watch over them properly, but that seemed the worst decision.
The monarch appealed to the federal government to live up to its responsibility of protecting lives and property.
According to Chief Shawa, 36 people were killed on the spot while 39 sustained various degrees of injuries and were taken to the hospital. But two others died later, bringing the total number of the dead to 38.
A visibly angry Governor Samuel Ortom condemned the killing and called on the Federal Government to intervene and save harmless farmers from being wiped out of existence.
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