Gunmen suspected to be herdsmen militia have again attacked Opaha in Edikwu Ward 2 of Apa Local government Area of Benue State, killing 15 persons, including a military officer.
The slain soldier, it was gathered, was the commander of Operation Whirl Stroke in that area.
Our correspondent gathered that the herders stormed the community around 4pm on Tuesday and attacked the residents.
A native of the community who didn’t want to be named told newsmen in Makurdi that the attackers have sacked the village and everyone had fled for their dear lives.
The source said: “As I’m talking to you now, we don’t know the location of many people because everyone ran away as the people launched an attack on the village between pm and 5pm yesterday.”
Opaha village is home of the State Commissioner of Finance, Hon. David Olofu.
Speaking on the attack, Olofu described the attack as sad, saying it was unprovoked and that over 15 people were killed, including an army officer.
He said: “Yes, they just went to my community and killed people unprovoked, over 15 people were killed, including the commander of OPWS in that area.
“To the best of my knowledge, there was no issue.
“That place borders Gwer West LGA, and all the communities around that axis have been consistently attacked; one community after another.
“This is a peaceful community where the people don’t look for anybody’s trouble.
“The attackers went to the community around 4pm.
“As I am talking to you now, the whole community has been sacked.
“Since the beginning of this year, there have been harvests of killings along that axis and the places are deserted.
“People cannot go to their farms, they cannot do anything.
“And then, they remain in their home and you come to their homes and kill 15 people in one day, including the military personnel that is deployed there to secure the place.
“If the military can just be killed like that then what about the people?
“What else can we do if we deployed the military and they are killed?
“Who else are we going to send beyond the military?”
Olofu noted that Opaha village is 10km to Umuogidi community, where over 50 people were killed earlier this month, saying the military has been deployed to the area to maintain law and order.
The Finance Commissioner, who noted that the situation is beyond an individual, the community, the LG and state, stated that the three tiers of government need to come together and have a policy on the issue, adding: “That you cannot just come and kill somebody and get away with it and nothing happens to anybody.
“It is so sad that in the face of all these efforts to try to provide the little you can for the people, all these are happening.
“This is sad.”
The Public Relations Officer of Operation Whirl Stroke, Flight Lieutenant Flogh Oquoh, when contacted on the phone told newsmen that the OPWS Commander had gone to the scene of the attack.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer, Benue State Police Command, SP Catherine Anene, confirmed the report, saying she does not have the details yet.
Recall that this is the third time communities in Apa LGA would be attacked in the last three weeks.
Beginning with the Igbobi community where five people, last weekend also, suspected armed herdsmen militia killed four mourners in Edikwu Council Ward of Apa LGA, including the Ward Chairman of the Labour Party, Nathaniel Ochoche.