The Benue State Government has asked its Ebonyi State counterpart to hold the Fulani herdsmen responsible for attacks in the state particularly the recent killings in Umwuagodo-Akpu community of Ohaukwu Local Government Area.
DAILY POST reports that Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State had accused the Agila Community in Ado Local Government Area of Benue State of launching attacks on Ebonyi community which led to the killing of unspecified number of residents recently.
Reacting, the Deputy Government of Benue State and Chairman Benue Boundary Committee, Engr Benson Abounu in a statement on Friday urged Umahi to leave Benue out of attacks in the Ebonyi Communities.
Engr Abounu, who expressed disappointment over Governor Umahi’s allegation, urged him to conduct a proper investigation on the incident and retract his claim.
According to him, residents of the attacked community had identified the assailants as Fulani herdsmen yet Umahi insisted that the people of Agila were involved in the attack.
The statement reads: “While we sympathize with the victims and families of those affected in the gruesome attack, it is important to state that there is no evidence linking the Agila people of Benue State with the offence.
“We are surprised at the attempt by the Ebonyi State Governor to change the narrative and find scapegoats for an action everyone, including the survivors themselves said was carried out by Fulani herdsmen.
“When the attack first occurred, even without any form of verification, and against the avalanche of evidence that it was carried out by Fulani herdsmen, Governor Umahi had hurriedly accused Agila people of responsibility.
“Today, two weeks after, in order to validate his earlier assertion, Governor Umahi is laying blame on the Agila people even as he has accepted that the attack was actually carried out by Fulani herdsmen. He now says that the herdsmen were hired by Benue people. Even a gullible public will find this difficult to swallow.
“It will be recalled that victims of the aitack had categorically identified herdsmen as the attackers. In spite of this, the Governor still went ahead to accuse the Agila people who convincingly absolved themselves of the atrocity.
“Given the foregoing, we are now compelled to ask of Governor Umahi the following questions:
“How did he come about the statement that the Agila people hired the Fulani herdsmen killers?
“Where is the evidence supporting the claim that Agila hired the herdsmen attackers?
“Did any Fulani herdsman tell Governor Umahi that the Agila people hired his kinsmen?
“Has Governor Umahi bothered to interact with the Agila side to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the claim?
“Let me state here that when news of the attack broke and the Governor cast aspersion on the Benue side, I, as Benue Deputy Governor and Boundary Committee Chairman, engaged my Ebonyi counterpart and we both investigated the unfortunate incident. Our findings did not support the claim that Agila people either directly attacked or masterminded the attack on Umuogodo-Akpu of Ebonyi State.
“I believe that it is now pertinent to request the Governor of Ebonyi State to make available all evidence, if any, of Agila’s involvement in the said attack. Otherwise we in Benue will have no choice but to conclude that the Governor’s unfounded claim amounts to inciting his people against Agila people and by extension Benue State. Moreso as the Governor in his press briefing after the State Security meeting, presented a cheque of N40m to Umuogodo-Akpu people to settle the victims AND to enable them form a “Vigilante”!!
“This, in our view, is dangerous coming from the Governor of a State. We will therefore demand that Governor Umahi takes a second look at the whole saga in order to properly address the unfortunate event”.