Escalating Bloodshed in Benue State: Amnesty Considered for Killers as Death Toll Mounts
The bloodshed in Benue State has shown no signs of abating, even with the advent of the new administration led by Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia. Contrary to expectations, armed herders and local militia continue to perpetrate killings, resulting in nearly 90 deaths and numerous injuries within just 56 days since the former Governor Sam Ortom left office on May 29.
Among the tragic victims are members of the Benue State Community Volunteer Guards, mourners, women, children, and the elderly. The attacks have ravaged communities across the state, leading to immense suffering and displacement of countless individuals.
A timeline of recent attacks reveals the severity of the situation:
- On June 3, unknown gunmen attacked Imande Mbakange and nearby communities in Mbacher Council Ward of Kastina-Ala Local Government Area, claiming over 40 lives and leaving several others injured.
- June 14 saw violence erupt in Mbasombo and Mbaivur communities of Gwer LGA, as well as Ibilla and Oju communities in Oju LGA, resulting in three fatalities.
- On July 1, a member of the BSCVGs fell victim to an ambush by unknown gunmen in Logo LGA.
- July 3 witnessed an attack on Ugba, Logo LGA headquarters, where another BSCVG member was killed, and many others were injured.
- July 6 reported the invasion of Tse Uikpam, an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) host community in Guma LGA, where a father of two was murdered, and his farm was looted.
- July 7 and 8 witnessed heart-wrenching attacks on Adogo Ugbaam, Akpuuna, and Diom communities in Ukum LGA, resulting in the brutal murder of over 33 people, including mourners.
- The July 16 attack on Igba-Ukyor and Tse Baka communities of Ushongo LGA claimed six lives.
Governor Alia recently visited Akpuuna village in Ukum LGA to assess the devastation and expressed deep sorrow over the killings. He noted that the attacks were perpetrated by fellow Benue people and emphasized the need to investigate the root causes. The Governor vowed to restore peace in the state and urged the youth to resist violence and maintain peace.
Furthermore, Governor Alia reiterated his administration’s commitment to granting amnesty to repentant criminals, as previously promised during his election campaigns. He aims to rehabilitate, train, and reintegrate those who have been hiding in the forests, with the hope of curbing the ongoing violence and restoring stability to the region.
The situation remains dire, and authorities are working diligently to address the root causes of the conflict and implement measures to bring an end to the tragic loss of lives in Benue State.