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Those Responsible for Agatu Genocide Must Be Punished – David Mark

Immediate past President of the Senate and the senator representing Benue South senatorial district, Senator David Mark on Friday visited the Agatu community of Benue State to assess the extent of damage carried out in the wake of a genocidal massacre by suspected Fulani herdsmen that left scores dead and hundreds displaced.

Accompanied by journalists, personal staff and political associates, including former Minister of Interior, Abba Moro and Hon. Samson Okwu, a member of the Federal House of Representatives representing Oju/Obi federal constituency, Rt. Hon. Ezekiel Adaji, a member of the Federal House of Representatives representing Otukpo/Ohimini federal constituency as well as ten members of the Benue State House of Assembly, Senator David Mark toured affected parts of Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State, stopping at no less than nine different villages that had become ghostly shadows of their former selves. Some of the villages visited by Senator Mark include, Aila, Adagbo, Akwu, Okoklo, Ugboju and Odugbeho.

Speaking at one of the sites of the destruction, Senator David expressed utter shock at the level of destruction carried out in Agatu. According to him, “I am shocked beyond words at the extent of destruction I have seen here in Agatu today. I didn’t believe that the level of destruction was up to this extent. Nothing whatsoever justifies this brazen act of destruction meted out on the people of Agatu. Whatever the reason for this, those responsible must be caught and they must be punished.”

In a set of tweets decrying the killings via his official Twitter handle on Friday, Senator Mark reaffirmed that those responsible for the killings will be fished out and punished.

Senator Mark calmed restive youths in Agatu community who told the former Senate President that they felt abandoned by Government and would be forced to take the laws into their hands if nothing drastic was done to arrest the situation.

Addressing a handful of members of Agatu community, who had assembled themselves into a team of “Homeland Defenders” to preserve, protect and defend whatever was left of Agatu, Senator Mark said: “The people of Agatu are peaceful people. I urge you to hold your peace and remain calm. My desire is to ensure that this crisis is resolved quickly before the next farming season.”

In a chat with SIGNAL, Ngbede Stephen, an Agatu resident who lost two of his sisters in the carnage decried the lack of empathy by the Benue State government since news broke on the killings. “We have not seen anyone here. If not for today’s visit, it’s as if we have been abandoned. No one cares about us. The state governor has not visited us once since the tragedy and destruction. I lost two of my sisters. It’s totally unacceptable”, he said.

Devastated parts of Agatu carried semblances of a wasteland like tribal marks as no sign of human life could be seen around the affected villages. Schools, churches and houses had been burnt to the ground as the putrid smell of decomposing bodies polluted the air.

Lending credence to allegations by Agatu people that what they had suffered was an unprovoked invasion and occupation by Fulani herdsmen, hordes of Fulani herdsmen and their herds of cattle were sighted moving away from some of the sacked communities into the forest the moment they sighted the convoy of Senator Mark.

As the convoy drove through Agatu, Fulani herdsmen and their cattle could be seen in a long stretch on both sides of the narrow pathway, their cattle grazing on deserted farmlands and trampling upon remnants of what was once a lively agrarian community of Agatu.

 

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