From Msughshima Andrew, Makurdi
The head of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), in Benue state has confirmed that seven persons were killed in Agagbe, Gwer West Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue on Saturday night.
This is coming a week to the governorship and state assembly elections.
The Commander, OPWS, Major General Adeyemi Yekini who expressed sadness about the incident, said he suspects that despite their efforts, some people are bent of causing mayhem in the state.
The Commander also said it was likely that some forces are instigating violence in the state for their own selfish interests.
Yekini therefore assured that the OPWS was on top of the situation and that the perpetrators would soon be fished out for deserving punishment.
However, controversy has surrounded the killing of the seven persons as to who the perpetrator were especially that some locals are saying the attack was carried out by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
It could be recalled that a week before the Presidential and National Assembly election, herdsmen has also laid siege on several communities in Guma and Agatu LGAs of the state, where they killed scores.
But, while OPWS said it was yet to ascertain those behind the killing of the seven persons, it said the incident that led to the attacks may not be unconnected with the rustling of cattle belonging to some herdsmen by members of the State Livestock Guards, dressed in military uniforms on Friday.
Although, OPWS said he was yet to unravel the circumstances that led to the attack, sources insisted the attack that led to the killing of the seven persons may have been a reprisal from the herdsmen whose cattle were rustled.
The Commander, OPWS, Major General Adeyemi Yekini in a release explained that even though he was not sure, if the attacks were as a result of a reprisal, he observed that if the feedbacks they were getting were anything to go by, the incident was likely to bring about a reprisal attacks.
While Yekini appealed to those behind the alleged disturbances to desist from it, he vowed that the military would continue play their role of protecting the state against herdsmen attacks.
He said some of the measures put in place to check the activities of herdsmen was the establishment of a base in Loko, Nasarawa state, over looking Agatu to check further attacks on the area.
He noted that OPWS has the identities of the cattle rustlers and would make them available to the police so they would be arrested and prosecuted.
Yekini stated that further investigation would unravel the identities of those behind the attacks, whether they were members of the state livestock guards or some persons using the guards as a cover to unleash mayhem on the people of the state.
Earlier, Flying Officer, Mohammed Abubakar, the Sub sector commander, OPWS, Gwer West LGA who spoke on the directive of the OPWS Commander, Major General Adeyemi Yekini said his sources could identify some of the persons that were involved in rustling the cattle.
Earlier, Abubakar said he got the report at about 4:30pm on Friday, that two persons dressed in Army uniform were seen around the area, where the cattle’s were rustled.
According to him, his sources knew that the men dressed in military uniform were not members of the OPWS team.
Abubakar explained that it was following this that the source reported the matter to the sector commander.
He observed that it was after the rustling of the cattle that the attacks were carried out on the locals, adding that when his team got to the area, they discovered three corpses at Agagbe, and later discovered another four in the surrounding village.
He said the matter has been reported to the Chairman of the LGA as well as the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in Naka.