Commissioner of Information and Orientation in the state, Lawrence Onoja (Jr.) who disclosed this to newsmen on Thursday said the killings took place barely 48 hours after the Minister of Defense, Mansur Dan-Ali called for the suspension of the anti open grazing law in Benue and other states.
“Facts available to the Benue State government confirmed that in the attacks, 13 Benue indigenes sadly lost their lives to these militant herdsmen, among them, a farmer, Emmanuel Kwaryina of Zongu settlement of Mbagwen, Mbalagh council Ward of Guma local government area.
“Chairman of Guma local government, Hon. Anthony Shawon who immediately briefed Governor Samuel Ortom and reported the incidents to security agencies regaled that the armed herdsmen invaded Tse Ishav in Saghev Ward where they brutally killed eight mourners at a wake keep while inflicting serious injuries on many others.
Onoja said the timing of the killings suggested that the herdsmen must have been encouraged by the unfortunate statement of the Defense Minister who had only on Tuesday, called for the suspension of the anti-open grazing law.
“The implication of such provocative statement is that these militia herdsmen could have been inspired in their attacks on Benue communities and the Benue State government completely lays blame on this most recent attack on the Minister of Defense for such unguarded utterances.
“Mansur Dan-Ali should understand that his position as Defense Minister calls for a high sense of responsibility and composure in expressing his personal feelings through public utterances as such could be misinterpreted rightly or wrongly as an official position.
The Information Commissioner also commended the government and people of Abia State on the passage of the anti open grazing law even as he called on security agencies to support the implementation of the law which is meant to promote peace and develop agriculture and livestock.