Thursday in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, the bodies of 73 persons killed by suspected herdsmen on new year day were laid to rest.
The governor of the state, Samuel Ortom, lamented that the state was looking forward to a better year when the herdsmen invaded and murdered in cold blood pregnant women, children and the elderly.
He said the state lost 73 persons to the attack, with many others sustaining various degree of injuries.
“For several years these attackers have turned our beautiful and endowed land into their killing fields and the main reason has been the clashes between herdsmen and farmers, but these attacks have intensified with alarming devastation since 2011,” he said.
He disclosed that since the attacks started in 2011, 13 out of the 23 local government areas in the state had borne the onslaught of the cattle herders, adding that several lives had been lost over the years.
He also used the occasion to reiterate his opposition to the cattle colonies being proposed by the federal government, saying the ranches proposed under the Anti-Open Grazing Act enacted by his state had provided the right incentives to end the conflicts between herders and farmers in the state.
He said the herdsmen had failed woefully if they thought that by killing innocent citizens, his administration would be forced to repeal the law and again called on the federal government to arrest the leaders of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, a faction of the main cattle dealers’ association.
He maintained that since the state does not have adequate land for farmers, there was insufficient land for colonies that map out grazing routes.