Inevitable hunger looms in Apa and Agatu LGAs of Benue State as marauding Fulani herdsmen continue their deadly attacks unabated.

Kidnappings and killings in the two local government areas have led to the abandonment of the communities in the two LGAs by the natives. As the rainy season sets in, their planned return to commence farming activities is under threat.

The herdsmen remain defiant and have continued with their daily attacks and killings, the locals said.

Apa/Agatu Federal Constituency has been under relentless attacks by Fulani herdsmen for the past 12 years, with most attacks and killings concentrated in Agatu Local Government particularly.

Recently, it has escalated to the neighbouring Apa, Adoka axis of Otukpo and Gwer-West, Gwer-East and other local government areas of the state, resulting in wanton killings, destructions and displacement of thousands of inhabitants of the affected communities.

Communities affected by the carnage in Agatu Local Government Area include Olegomakwu, Onahe, Ocholonya, Okokolo, Ugboju, Olegobidu, Odugbeho, Odejo, Ogbaulu, Imwenyi, Adana, Ologba-Gishu, Iwarri, Ejima-gope, Ejima-gochi, Ikpele and Okpokpolo.

Among the affected communities in Apa LGA include Ikobi, Ijaha, Ochumekwu, all Edikwu communities, Ugbobi, Opaha, Odugbo, Ebini, Ikano, Oiji, Adija, Imana and Akpete.

Enquiries show that the attackers always bring up allegations of cattle rustling, as well their opposition to the anti-open grazing law in the state.

But the locals are of the contrary opinion that the herdsmen are in the state to conquer their lands and subjugate their people, adding that most of the attackers are foreign Fulani who don’t come with their cows but are well armed with sophisticated weapons.

In an interview, the traditional ruler of Agatu land (the Ad’Agatu), HRH. Chief Godwin Ngbede Onah, decried the endless atrocities being meted on his people by the herdsmen, reiterating his appeal to the security agencies to go all out and end the unprovoked attacks and Killings.

“Hunger and general hardship are already taking a toll on my people and will worsen in the coming months and years as a vast part of Agatu land is left uncultivated as a result of the displacement of most farmers.

“Even those farmers whose communities are not affected cannot go to their farms for fear of being killed by the attackers. We are in a very terrible situation,” Chief Onah said.

Similarly, the Executive Chairman of Agatu Local Government Area, Hon Yakubu Ochohepo Pencil, who couldn’t hide his pain, condemned the continuous atrocities of the herdsmen, wondering why the people of Apa and Agatu must be killed by foreign and local invaders for reasons best known to the killers.

“It is so surprising that unprovoked attacks and killings have been going on in Agatu for the past 11 years.

“If the atrocities are not stopped now, an unprecedented hardship and hunger will take over the entire Agatu land as nobody is going to farm anymore.

“We have done our best, the Federal Government should carry out a massive deployment of the military to crisis-ravaged areas in order to bring a final end to the ongoing genocide”, Hon Pencil pleaded.

Another stakeholder and former Chairman of Agatu LGA, Hon Adoyi Suleiman in an interview said the insecurity in Agatu had defied every solution.

“Hunger and all other forms of hardship are already biting harder in Agatu; inhabitants of more than half of the communities in the local council have deserted their homes and farm lands, there are now more mouths to eat than hands to produce.

“I call on the Federal Government to intervene now, the crisis has lingered on for too long, let it end now in order to save our people and our land”, Adoyi said.

Also speaking, a youth leader in Agatu LGA, Comrade Abu Adaegahi Elijah went down memory lane.

He said that, “prior to the lingering insecurity, Agatu people were known for their hardworking and good morality but the crisis has wittingly and unwittingly brought about prostitution/promiscuity, joblessness, radicalization among youths, hunger and general economic hardship to Agatu land; our people no longer go to farms.

“There are two causes of insecurity in Agatu and Apa, namely- Fulani attacks and communal crisis among communities over ownership of natural resources, resulting in disunity among the people, especially the youths.

“For example, the endless Agbaduma/Abugbe impasse and the Ochologba/Egba upheavals are all because of ownership of fish ponds.

“Until these issues are resolved amicably, the marauding Fulani herdsmen will continue to ravage our land.

“I urge the governments at all levels to tackle the problems holistically, beginning with communal crisis and disunity in Agatu land in order to prevent extinction of our people as they are dying en masse daily.”

Also, a former Council Chairman of Apa Local Council, Hon Sunday Onehi, called on the Federal Government to take a very decisive action that could end the ongoing genocidal activities of Fulani herdsmen against his people.

He said most of the communities in Apa East had been deserted.

“As I am talking to you, the displaced people from the affected communities have become refugees and are squatting with the people they may not even know in Ugbokpo, Amoke, Otukpo and Makurdi, facing problems of food and shelter.

“The insecurity has refused to fade away despite all efforts. The Federal Government should wake up and proffer final solutions to the menace,” Hon Onehi submitted.

Another former Chairman of Apa LGA, Hon Ameh Akoche, lampooned the attackers for the ceaseless attacks, killings and kidnappings in the local government.

“The crisis has affected all the 6 Council Wards in Zone B and C out of the 11 wards in Apa LGA, namely- Ikobi, Edikwu I, Edikwu II, Oiji, Ojantele/Akpete and Ugbokpo.

“These are some of the main food producing areas in the local government.

“How are the people expected to cope up with hunger and general hardship in the coming months and years as they can no longer access their farms.

“The only option left now is for the Federal Government to wake up to its primary responsibility, which is protection of lives and property of the people, by carrying out a total military operation to flush out the attackers out of Apa and neighbouring Agatu and Gwer Gwer-West LGAs so that the people can go back to their ancestral homes to continue with their farming activities,” Hon Akoche opined.

Another stakeholder in Apa Local Government, Hon. Prince Antenyi Antenyi in his submission said the insecurity had lingered on for too long.

“I can’t imagine why insecurity has defied every solution. Nowhere is safe in the eastern parts of Apa LGA, houses, crops are completely destroyed, properties stolen, many killed and displaced.

“Let the Federal Government swiftly end the crisis now before it becomes too late for the people”, Antenyi said.