The Benue State Government on Friday said there is no evidence linking the Agila people of Ado Local Government Area to the recent attack in Ebonyi State.
Gunmen had in the early hours of April 12 attacked Ebele village, Ngbo in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State reportedly killing an unspecified number of people.
The attackers were said to have invaded the village through Agila community, a border town between Ebonyi and Benue States which have been enmeshed in a boundary dispute.
But in a statement issued on Friday, Benue State Deputy Governor and Chairman of the Boundary Committee, Benson Abounu, exonerated the Agila people, expressing disappointment over a statement credited to Ebonyi State Government, David Umahi who purportedly indicted residents of the north-central state.
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“While we sympathise with the victims and families of those affected in the gruesome attack, it is important to state that there is no evidence linking the Agila people of Benue State with the offence,” he said.
“We are surprised at the attempt by the Ebonyi State Governor to change the narrative and find scapegoats for an action everyone, including the survivors themselves said was carried out by Fulani herdsmen.
“We are amazed and highly disappointed with the statement credited to the Executive Governor of Ebonyi State, His Excellency, Engr David Umahi indicting the Agila people of Ado Local Government Area of Benue State for the Monday, April 12th, 2021 attack on Umwuagodo-Akpu community of Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State in which an unspecified number of people were allegedly killed.”
When the attack first occurred, even without any form of verification, and against the avalanche of evidence that it was carried out by Fulani herdsmen, Governor Umahi had hurriedly accused Agila people of responsibility.
Today, two weeks after, in order to validate his earlier assertion, Governor Umahi is laying blame on the Agila people even as he has accepted that the attack was actually carried out by Fulani herdsmen. He now says that, the herdsmen were hired by Benue people. Even a gullible public will find this difficult to swallow.
It will be recalled that victims of the aitack had categorically identified herdsmen as the attackers. In spite of this, the Governor still went ahead to accuse the Agila people who convincingly absolved themselves of the atrocity.
Given the foregoing, we are now compelled to ask of Governor Umahi the following questions:
1.How did he come about the statement that the Agila people hired the Fulani herdsmen killers?
- Where is the evidence supporting the claim that Agila hired the herdsmen attackers?
- Did any Fulani herdsman tell Governor Umahi that the Agila people hired his kinsmen?
- Has Governor Umahi bothered to interact with the Agila side to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the claim?
Let me state here that when news of the attack broke and the Governor cast aspersion on the Benue side, I, as Benue Deputy Governor and Boundary Committee Chairman, engaged my Ebonyi counterpart and we both investigated the unfortunate incident. Our findings did not support the claim that Agila people either directly attacked or masterminded the attack on Umuogodo-Akpu of Ebonyi State.
I believe that it is now pertinent to request the Governor of Ebonyi State to make available all evidences, if any, of Agila’s involvement in the sald attack. Otherwise we in Benue will have no choice but to conclude that the Govemor’s unfounded claim amounts to inciting his people against Agila people and by extension Benue State. Moreso as the Governor in his press briefing after the State Security meeting, presented a cheque of N40m to Umuogodo-Akpu people to settle the victims AND to enable them form a “Vigilante”!!
This, in our view, is dangerous coming from the Governor of a State. We will therefore demand that Governor Umahi takes a second look at the whole saga in order to properly address the unfortunate event.
Engr Benson Abounu
Benue Boundary Committee.