Fulani herdsmen have allegedly killed no fewer than one thousand seven hundred and seventy-three residents of Benue State between 2018 till date.
Naija News understands that the figures were mentioned on Monday during a press conference in Makurdi the state capital.
According to Local Government Chairmen and leaders of socio-cultural organisations, the reported casualties only reflects the number of corpses recovered from different attacks across the state.
The local leaders noted that the armed herdsmen had taken the advantage of open grazing to carry out the gruesome killing of peasant farmers who were only working on their farmlands.
The council bosses further lamented the negative impact of open grazing which according to them have resulted in attacks on communities in different parts of Benue State.
They stressed that the sad events have adversely affected the local economy as farmers are prevented from accessing their farms and local markets are also deserted for fear of imminent invasion by the killers.
Speaking at the conference, Ukum council boss, Steve Ayua, said the herdsmen no longer come to the state with their cattle but with AK-47 rifle.
He said, “It is on record that open grazing has led to the invasion of farming communities by Fulani herdsmen leading to massive killings and maiming of people, including children, raping of women, destruction of property, loss of livelihoods and displacement of persons.
“The negative impact of open grazing which often results in attacks on communities in different parts of Benue State has adversely affected the local economy as farmers are prevented from accessing their farms and local markets are also deserted for fear of imminent invasion by the killers.”
Ayua stressed that it was by the grace of God that the state Governor, Samuel Ortom was able to escape death when he was attacked by the suspected Fulani militia.
Meanwhile, Fulani herdsmen under the umbrella of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore have said they can not suddenly quit open grazing except the government makes some provisions available for them.
The group said though it is their will to put an end to open grazing in Nigeria, it however demands that the government should meet its financial and logistics needs first.
Naija News understands that Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore brand Ambassador, Temitope Ajayi, said this alongside officials of the association while on a courtesy visit to the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, in Abuja.
According to the group, it will be difficult for them to quit the age-long practise since there is no alternative way yet to feed their cattle.