At least 23 locals have been killed when some persons believed to be herders attacked two communities in Benue State.
The attacks occurred on Monday night at Mbadwem and Tiortyu communities in Guma and Tiortyu Local Government Areas respectively, state authorities said.
Nathaniel Ikyur, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue, confirmed the killings in a statement on Tuesday.
In his reaction, Governor Ortom condemned the killings and asked the people of the state to rise to defend themselves forthwith.
“It is becoming increasingly glaring every day that my people are now an endangered species and so we can no longer wait for help from anywhere,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.
“My people will have to rise up to the occasion to defend themselves and their heritage against the Fulani army of occupation.”
Apart from the killings, the governor’s aide said scores of others were injured and have been taken to a hospital in the state for treatment.
During the attack on Mbadwem, no fewer than eight people were said to have been killed while 15 others lost their lives in Tiortyu of Benue.
“We are law-abiding citizens; we have cried for help against these invaders, but nothing is forthcoming,” Governor Ortom lamented. “We are left alone, and it looks like it is a deliberate strategy.
“Now we have only one option; to defend ourselves or get extinct. This is a case for our survival. We have been accommodating of other people in our land, but our hospitality is misconstrued as weakness. We are not a conquered people. We will never be. We are free-born citizens of Nigeria.”
The governor, however, called on the security agencies to do more in crime prevention and protect the lives and properties of the people in the state.
He also urged the residents to cooperate with security agencies to flush out the undesirable elements in the society.
The state government, Governor Ortom said, will not shy away from its commitment to providing welfare and security for its people.