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145 arrested over herdsmen, farmers clashes
No fewer than 145 suspects have been arrested by the police over herdsmen/farmers clashes in some parts of the country, including Benue, Kaduna and Nasarawa states.
The arrests occurred between January 2016 and January 2018, a Presidency source said.
President Muhammadu Buhari who had given instructions to security agencies to fish out perpetrators of the violence, has been visiting some of the trouble spots and is expected in Benue State.
The source, who does not want his name in print, also revealed that of the number, 124 had been charged to court, while 21 suspects are under investigation and waiting to be charged to court.
He said: “So far, 106 suspects have been arrested and charged to court for prosecution on the following offences – criminal conspiracy, inciting disturbance of public peace, assault and mischief.”
On March 5, no fewer than 24 persons were killed; 20 others were feared missing in two communities in Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State following fresh attacks by suspected herdsmen.
“Early in the year, three suspects with Ak-47 rifles were apprehended by the Police Intelligence Team in Benue, nine members of untrained Civilian JTF/Livestock guards with prohibited firearms were arrested by the military in Arufa, a boundary town between Benue and Taraba with five AK-47 rifles who confessed that they were employed as Livestock Guards by a state government on a N150,000 monthly salary.
“Similarly, 16 suspects were arrested in Gboko Local Government Area and investigations are ongoing. Several members of armed militia and unknown gunmen were killed or apprehended by the police.
“Other arrests made include that of six suspects on January 1, 2018 following the police response to the killings in Akor Village in Guma Local Government Area on December 31, 2017.
“Exhibits recovered from the suspect include three cutlasses, charms and other items. All the suspects were charged to court for culpable homicide. Concerted efforts are being made by the police to apprehend all culprits in the conflict,” the source said.’
The police, he noted, have had their fair share of attacks while trying to fish out the culprits.
Quoting a police source, he said: “On January 25 this year, two visiting Police Mobile Force (PMF) from 20 and 32 led by their respective unit commanders were ambushed by a group suspected to be pastoralists while they were on patrol at Sati village in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State.
“During the ambush, Inspector Abdullahi Isiaka was shot and wounded. Sergeant Solomon Dung was reported missing.
“We are doing our job diligently to ensure safety of lives and property in these flashpoint areas. So, it is unfair when some people say we are being partial in how we are handling the conflict,” the police source said.
The Presidency source said that the Police had lost several of its officers. One is still missing in action in the course of restoring peace to the state.
“About 30 of our colleagues have been killed in the line of duty. Sergeant Dung is still missing in action,” the source said.
He said that the disbandment and disarming of the Livestock Guards and militia groups in the state are ongoing so as to forestall further violence.