Benue state Information Commission, Lawrence Onoja Jnr., Wednesday confirmed that armed herdsmen has invaded Mbatoho Island and sacked close to 5,000 residents, at Mbalagh council ward of Makurdi local government area of Benue State.
The Benue State government yesterday disclosed that the invaders has completely taken over and occupied the vast Island after razing down houses and homes of the locals.
The herdsmen were also reported to have unleashed their cows to graze on farmlands and food barns of the fleeing locals.
Mr. Lawrence Onoja Jnr. made this known to reporters in Makurdi, and also said the invaders had completely taken over the Island adding that the government had directed security personnel to push back the invaders.
According to the Information Commissioner, “our findings when the Security Adviser to the Governor, Lt. Col. Paul Hemba(Rtd.) led a team to the Island, indicated that for some time in the last few days there has been serious influx of herdsmen into Benue especially along Agatu, Guma, Logo, Katsina/Ala local government areas and communities bordering Nasarawa state especially.
“It was in course of this influx that groups of herdsmen three days ago went to Mbatoho Island, at Mbalagh council ward of Makurdi local government area and sacked the locals from their homes.
“The people fled from the Island and the herdsmen took over the community. When the team got there it was discovered that the herdsmen were feeding their cattle on the farm produce of the people and all they had in their barns.
“Governor Samuel Ortom has been in constant touch with security personnel who have mobilized to the Island and have been directed to push back the herdsmen.
“Unfortunately the Exercise Ayem A’ Akpatuma recently launched by the military in the state to end the herdsmen incursion in the state does not cover that area because it is an Island completely surrounded by water.
“However, securities personal have been mobilized to the island to move the herdsmen out so that the people can move back to their community.”
The State Police Public Relations Officer, Assistant Superintendent, ASP, Moses Yamu also confirmed the development.