After killing others, herdsmen set our house ablaze, took us for dead, sang and danced away
Heartrending account of survivors who saw their siblings, children slaughtered
•Blind oldest man in the village killed alongside his son
By Peter Duru, Makurdi
The sight of four year old Aondongu Gbaior, laying motionless at the pediatric ward of the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, BSUTH, with bullet wounds on his head, leaves more questions than answers on why this should be his fate. He was the only surviving member of a family of four after armed militant herdsmen at the early hours of last Sunday invaded Tseadough village in Mbachom, Yaav Ward Jato Aka, of Kwande Local Government Area of Benue State killing seven persons including women and children.
Though still in critical condition, Aondongu is alive today due to the courage of his late father who was among the victims of that dastardly attack. He took the bullet for him when he attempted to flee the besieged village with the little boy. Regrettably his one year old sibling was not so lucky, he was cuddled by his late mother who also made effort to flee with the toddler, both of them were felled by the bullets of the marauders herdsmen.
Today, he is left with his maternal grandmother who has taken the responsibility of catering for the four year old orphan but whose countenance expressed the deep agonizing pain of a mother who just lost a grandchild, daughter and son in-law in one fell swoop. In the same hospital were four other survivors of the attack, including 19 year old Iveren Zakar-Akanyi who was shot on both hands and mistaken for dead by the attackers.
He was extremely lucky to have survived but still in critical condition. As for 18 year old Deborah Igbadoor, she was lucky to have escaped alive with her husband Iorun Igbadoo, both were in a house that was set ablaze by the militant herdsmen who waited for them to jump out of the blaze to be slaughtered but their resilience in the burning house was their saving grace, regrettably two children in the said building were burnt beyond recognition.
In her account she said, “when the well armed herdsmen stormed our village around 5am on that fateful day, shooting sporadically, my husband and I including two children and two others couldn’t run out of the house where we hid because they were very close.
“Sensing that people were in the house, they set the house ablaze waiting for us to come out. We hid inside while the fire raged, it was share miracle that we did not get consumed by the fire. While the house was burning, the armed men waited for us to come out, but when nobody came out and the house was completely burnt they started singing and dancing believing that we had all died.
“We suffered burns, unfortunately, two children in that same house didn’t make it alive, they were burnt beyond recognition including the two others. “When they finally left, we crawled out not believing that we were still alive until help came and the chairman of our local government area came with security people and rushed us to this hospital,” she sad as she wept.
Her husband, Iorun Igbadoo also narrated the same sad tale of their close encounter with death on the fateful day. As for Gyaaver Ioryom who was also shot on the thigh but managed to escape, his younger brother Tersoo was not so lucky, “he was hacked to death while trying to escape,” Gyaaver said.
“They burnt all our houses, farmland and took away whatever food they could lay their hands on. “We never envisaged the attack because we never for any reason crossed their path but I recall that sometime ago they also attacked some villages that were not too far from our village, we never knew that they would also visit us.”
“They did not only mete this horror on us, they also went as far as killing an innocent blind oldest man in my village who they murdered alongside his son. The man was 99 years old “We are pleading with President Buhari to stop these killings because they are unprovoked and cannot be justified for any reason whatsoever.
If this is not done and urgently too, we will have no option but to conclude that the federal government is behind what is happening to local farmers and rural dwellers in Benue state,” he added. Recalling the attack on Tseadough village, the local government council Chairman, Terdoo Kenti, confirmed that seven persons were killed while six others were injured in the invasion.
“We gathered that the attack which occurred at the early hours of Sunday has compelled several villagers to move out of the area and surrounding villages in droves for fear of another invasion by the attackers. “To my knowledge there was no prior problem between the villagers and the herdsmen, so l wonder why the attackers would just come and swoop on these innocent people without any provocation”.
Continuing, Kenti said when he was alerted of the development, he immediately alerted security agencies who assisted him to move the injured and dead victims to the hospital. Perhaps, the invasion of Jato Aka, a renown ancestral home of the Tiv race, by the militant herdsmen has left tongues wagging, leaving palpable fears in the hearts of many who believe it could spark angry reactions from the Tiv speaking people of Benue state.