By Peter Duru
Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue state, Monday afternoon escaped death by the whiskers when his convoy was ambushed by suspected Fulani mercenaries who engaged his security aides in exchange of gunfire at Tee-Akanyi village in Guma local government area of the state.
This was just after the rampaging invaders had sacked about 64 villages on the Daudu-Gbajimba axis of the council, killing no fewer than 37 persons.
Governor Suswam had alongside journalists, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Terhile Ayua, the Benue state Commissioner of Police, Adams Audu and his team, soldiers, and other security personnel embarked on an assessment tour of communities that were recently invaded by the herdsmen on Daudu-Gbajimba road.
On getting to Uikpam-Mbabai, the Governor and his team discovered that the marauders had attacked and pulled out of the community that very morning, after razing down houses, barns and beheading over thirty persons whose remains laid lifeless in several houses and huts.
The Governor and his team were however taken aback when the military personnel on the tour decided to pulled out of the tour on the ground that they were not detailed to travel with the team to Gbajimba.
The decision of the soldiers did not however deter the Governor who insisted on making the trip to Gbajimba without the military personnel.
It was while the Governor’s convoy was heading to Umenger village, a distance of about 20km from Daudu that the team discovered that the herders had completely taken over all the villages on that axis, grazing and looting the property of the locals who had deserted their homes.
The convoy however ran into a fresh attack at Tse-Akenyi village where fire was still raging in several houses in the entire community, while the attackers continued with the looting of the property of their victims.
However, the entourage did not realize that the marauders had taken cover in some of the abandoned houses and while Governor Suswam alighted from his car and was busy inspecting the level of destruction in the community, when suddenly they came under heavy gun attack.
The gunfire sparked a duel between the security personnel on the Governors entourage and the invaders who took cover in nearby bushes.
The exchange of gunfire lasted close to one hour, the Governor Suswam was however safely smuggled into his official vehicle by his security details when the shooting subsided and he was driven to Gbajimba, the local government headquarters, where he addressed some of the fleeing locals and displaced persons.
Speaking to the aggrieved people, Suswam lamented the spate of attacks on the people of the state by Fulani herdsmen, he assured the displaced persons that the government would not abandon them in the time of grief.
Meantime, on his way back from the assessment tour, Governor Gabriel Suswam picked and conveyed the remains of some the headed victims to the mortuary in Makurdi. the state capital.