Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state yesterday said 492 persons, including two Catholic priests in state, have been killed by herdsmen between January and May this year. Ortom disclosed this at the burial of the two Catholic priests; Fr. Joseph Gor, Felix Tyolaha and other 17 worshippers killed on April 24 at St. Ignatius Quasi-Parish, Ayar Mbalom in Gwer local government area of the state. He said the burial of the two priests and 17 worshippers marked the third time Benue was conducting mass burial of victims slain by the herdsmen. “There have been continuous killing of the people in the state but the killing of the two Catholic priests; Joseph Gor, Felix Tyolaha and the other worshippers at a mass in Mbalom, is a shift from what the state has been going through.
“Was there any grass in the church where the two priests and worshippers were killed or were they farmers that they were killed by the herdsmen? This is a different agenda and not a search forgrass,” he added. The governor called for the arrest of leaders of Miyetti Allah Kauttal Hore, whom he said engineered the killing in the state, adding: “We are not concerned by the militia men, whether herdsmen, Libyans, ISWA or Boko Haram but those who brought them and showed them the killing field. Earlier, the Tor Tiv V, Prof James Ayatse, warned against reprisal attack, adding that though Benue is mourning over senseless attacks by herdsmen on the people, they should be forgiven. He, however, cautioned the people to remain alert and united irrespective of their religion or political affiliations.