Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam narrowly escaped death on Tuesday when his convoy was attacked by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
Suswam’s convoy was on its way to Gbajimba in Guma Local Government Area of the state when the incident occurred.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the governor was on a fact finding mission following the continuous invasion of many communities on the Daudu-Gbajimba road by herders.
NAN which did not provide detailed information about another attack on Tse-Akenyi, reported that there was about an hour exchange of gunfire between the bandits and Suswam’s security aides.
Suswam, who confirmed the incident, told the victims of the attack in Gbajimba, that the situation was disturbing.
He added that people must defend themselves if security operatives failed to do their job.
The governor said, “I salute each and every one of you for your courage and steadfastness throughout this period. This is beyond the herdsmen; this is a real war.
“On my way to this place, they exchanged gunfire with us for over one hour before we were able to get here.
“My people are being butchered and their homes destroyed. So, if the security agents, especially the military, cannot provide security for us, we will have to defend ourselves.
“I cannot abandon you people at this point in time to die. You voted me to provide security for you and that I must do for you.
“These Fulani are not like the real Fulanis we used to know. Please return to your homes and defend your land. Do not allow anybody to make you slaves in your home land. ’’
The Guma LGA Chairman, Mr. Frank Adi, condemned the killings and destruction of homes by the herdsmen.
Adi, who was represented by his deputy, Mr Godwin Viashima, appealed to the government to provide them with security operatives.
When contacted, Suswam’s Director of Press, Dr. Cletus Akwaya, said the attackers killed some people in the sacked villages.
He said “His Excellency went to the crisis area to look at the level of destruction when he was attacked. Schools in this area have been closed down since the crisis started in 2011.
“The marauders sacked the villages and some of the schools are now being occupied by their cows. They sacked villages in Gwer, Guma-West. Some bodies were recovered from some of these areas without bullet wounds.”
Akwaya added that government officials suspected that the invaders were insurgents who moved into Nigeria from Mali.
He said, “There are suspicions that the marauders may have used chemical weapons. They may be people who moved from Libya to Mali and they are here now.
“What they are doing in the North-East is what they are trying to bring to the North-Central states of Benue, Plateau and Nassarawa . It is not what the state government alone can handle.”
He, however, said there was no casualty among members of the governor’s convoy.
Meanwhile, suspected members of Boko Haram have attacked the convoy of Gwoza LGA Chairman, Hamman Ahmadu, destroying two vehicles and leaving three policemen and two drivers missing.
It was learnt that Ahmadu and his convoy ran into a siege laid by the sect members near a bridge on the Bama-Gwoza Road at about 4.35pm on Monday.
Narrating the incident to journalists on Tuesday, Mallam Baba, a driver attached to Borno State Government House in Maiduguri, said, “On reaching the bridge, after returning from Gwoza, and Barawa on an official visit, we were surrounded by several gunmen at the destroyed Firgi Bridge.
“They shot from all directions and that made three drivers to reverse and escape. Two other vehicles, including my Toyota Hilux, were abandoned. I had to crawl for about 300 metres to escape from the insurgents.”
Asked to give the number of people killed, Baba said, “It is only God that saved our lives yesterday evening (Monday), including the council chairman.