At least 19 people including two Catholic priests and parishioners were, on Tuesday, killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Ayar Mbalon village, Gwer East Local Government area of Benue State.
Daily Sun gathered from sources that the parishioners and the priests had gone for early morning mass about 5:30a.m. when the herdsmen who stormed the village and the church wasted no time in spraying bullets on everyone in sight.
Our correspondent observed that since Governor Samuel Ortom travelled out of the country, the spate of killings in the state in the last few weeks seemed to be on the increase as hardly a day passes without news about herdsmen killing.
“The rampaging Fulani herdsmen this morning attacked Ayar Mbalom village in Gwer East Local government Area of Benue State and killed two Rev. Fathers and many others,” a source said.
Many were said to have died on the spot while several others sustained injuries even as remains of the dead were at the time of this report being moved to the morgue of St. Theresa’s Hospital.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi has given the names of the deceased Reverend Fathers killed in the attack at their St. Ignatius Quasi Parish, Ukpor Mbalom as Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha.
In a statement signed by its Director of Communications, Fr. Moses Iorapuu and made available to newsmen read in part, “Reverend Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha have been confirmed dead in the deadly attack by herdsmen/Jihadists early today (Tuesday) on Mbalom village and St. Ignatius Quasi Parish Ukpor-Mbalom.”
Iorapuu, who regretted that the herdsmen in their classic style, burnt down homes, destroyed food items and killed at will maintained that the police seemed to know nothing of the attacks which have been going on in other villages within Benue State since the Anti Open Grazing Law came into effect last year.
“Many people are asking why the International community has remained silent over the massacre of Benue citizens?
“The answer is simple: It has been the goal of the Jihadists to conquer Benue and Tiv people who resisted their advance into the middle belt and the Eastern part of Nigeria since 1804, the people who rejected Islam and fought for the unification of Nigeria in the civil war of 1967 – 1970.
“The people of Eastern Nigeria therefore have little sympathy for Benue people who fought on the side of Nigeria.
“The Muslim North is enjoying a sweet revenge overshadowed by an insensitive regime.”
He lamented that there are over 170,000 internally displaced persons in eight camps in Benue before the Naka invasion stressing that this current invasion of Mbalom would further swell the humanitarian crisis the state is already faced with.
“What cannot be said at this point is the consequences of the death of Missionaries in the silent killings that have been ignored by the government for over a year.
“The Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, which is one of the largest Dioceses in Nigeria, has been active in providing relief materials including education and skills acquisition lessons.
“To go for the Priests means total destruction of everything we stand for and believe in, as a people,” Iorapuu stated.
The latest killing has sparked up tension around the popular Wurukum area of Makurdi, a development which had made the police to draft its men to the area to forestall any crisis.
Efforts to get the police authorities to confirm the report failed as at the time of this report as the numbers of both Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, and the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Moses Yamu, could not be reached.