Benue state was again under attack yesterday as suspected herdsmen stormed St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Ukpor-Mbalom Parish, Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State, killing two Catholic priests and 17 parishioners.
The latest attack came barely four days after the murder of 10 persons by herdsmen in neighbouring Guma Local Government Area and the destruction of 300 houses by men suspected to be military personnel in Naka, Gwer West Local Government Area of the state.
It was learnt that several persons sustained bullet wounds, while the invaders also sacked part of the village, razing close to 60 houses, huts, and farmland, economic trees as well as food barns of their victims.
Reacting through a statement, the Director of Communications Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, Father Moses Iorapuu, confirmed the attack. The statement read: “Rev Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha have been confirmed dead in the deadly attack by herdsmen/Jihadists early today (yesterday) on Mbalom village and St. Ignatius Quasi Parish Ukpor-Mbalom. “In their classic style, they burnt down homes, destroyed food items and killed at will. The police seem to know nothing of the attacks which have been going on in other villages within Benue State since the Anti Open Grazing Law came into effect last year. “Many people are asking why the international community has remained silent over the massacre of Benue citizens? The answer is simple: It has been the goal of the Jihadists to conquer Benue and Tiv people who resisted their advance into the Middle Belt and the Eastern part of Nigeria since 1804; the people who rejected Islam and fought for the unification of Nigeria in the civil war of 1967-1970. “The people of Eastern Nigeria, therefore, have little sympathy for Benue people who fought on the side of Nigeria. The Muslim North is enjoying a sweet revenge overshadowed by an insensitive regime. “There were over 170,000 internally displaced persons before the Naka invasion and surely with the current situation in Mbalom, Benue will be flooded with thousands more. What cannot be said at this point is the consequences of the death of Missionaries in the silent killings that have been ignored by the government for over a year. “The Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, which is one of the largest Dioceses in Nigeria, has been active in providing relief materials including education and skills acquisition lessons. To go for the Priests means total destruction of everything we stand for and believe in, as a people!”.