Benue Attack: Humanitarian Crises Overwhelm Guma LGA
The Chairman, Guma Local Government Area, Mr Anthony Shawon, said the invasion of some villages in the council area has left a huge humanitarian and environmental crises that needed urgent intervention.
Shawon said on Monday in Makurdi that the herders, who invaded Saav, Mbadyen and Uvir villages on January 1, had retreated to the forest of Dogon Yashi, stretching from Guma to Logo on the banks of river Benue, covering over 57km long.
Shawon, who lamented the destruction of crops, farms and houses by the invaders, said survivors of the invasion had left their ancestral homes and were looking for shelter in nearby towns.
He said the state government had approved the setting up of camps for the displaced persons but regretted that the few already established were overcrowded by the Internally Displaced Persons ( IDPs ).
“The camps at Guma and Gbajimba are overcrowded, but the Benue State Emergency Management Agency ( SEMA ) is already handling the situation because as a local government, the scale is beyond us.”
He regretted that the invaders, who were hiding in the Dogon Yashi forest, were still attacking villages, burning down houses and destroying crops.
Shawon said the attackers were still destroying crops kept in farms such as soya beans, yams, guinea corn and rice.
“They are openly grazing on farms after which they set them on fire,” he alleged.
The chairman, however, commended the men of the Nigerian Army for their quick intervention in quelling the crisis.
He appealed to the army to enter into the forest and dislodge the herders there.
He accused the Kabawa community in Guma of ferrying food to herdsmen in the forest in exchange for cattle.
Shawon, however, disclosed that the Kabawa people who carried food to the herders had been arrested by the police in Abinsi.
He, however, regretted that the herdsmen were still carrying out open grazing in spite of the anti open grazing law on an open stretch of land from Mbagwen to Lokobi in the Local Government Area.
According to him, that place is still open for invasion as the herdsmen are still doing open grazing there.
Meanwhile, Gov. Samuel Ortom has set aside Thursday, January 11 for the mass burial of the 71 victims of the invasion while Tuesday and Wednesday had been declared days of mourning.
The flag will fly at half mast while government offices will close at 1 p.m.