The police in Benue came under attack from herdsmen and are searching for four officers who were part of the targeted patrol team in Logo Local Government Area on Saturday afternoon.
The policemen were returning from a confidence-building mission in remote villages when suspected herdsmen opened fire on them in Tse Akpam village, near Azege town, police and residents said.
They spoke to Premium Times.
“We had had an encounter around Azege when a team of mobile police went on confidence patrol,” said police commissioner Fatai Owoseni.
“When they were coming back at a point in Azege, they started hearing gunfire from inside the bush suspected to be from the herdsmen.There was a serious exchange of gunfire.”
Owoseni said the attackers burnt a police van and four officers could not be found as at 7:20 p.m. Saturday.
“One of our vehicles was set ablaze. So far, on their side, we’re still trying to ascertain casualties; while we’re yet to see four of our men,” he said.
The police chief said more officers have been dispatched to the areas to search for the missing officers.
Read also: BENUE: Two arrested as herdsmen engage Nigerian Army in fierce gun battle
Enoch Nyikyaa, a chief in Logo LGA, said the attack occurred in his domain and that the herdsmen who carried it out also destroyed farmlands with their cattle. He said the attack occurred in Tse Akpam village, which is within Azege.
The herdsmen are said to still be openly grazing in some remote villages in Benue despite the anti-open grazing law that has been the subject of much controversy.
The attack comes a day after three persons were killed in separate assaults on villages in the same local government area Thursday night.
Three persons who sustained injuries in the attacks are said to be currently undergoing treatments at the hospital.
The Thursday night attack occurred near Anyiin, a town in Logo LGA that serves as a base for police special forces, leading to further criticism of the police for inadequate action.
But Owoseni said Saturday’s attack should be seen as an evidence of police’s proactive approach towards the crisis.
“People are saying police are not working, but going on confidence-building patrol is being proactive,” Owoseni said.
“If we didn’t go on patrol, how would we have suffered this attack?”
The commissioner said Azege and its environs were safe, urging the residents to believe in the ability of police to return peace to the entire state.
“We will not relent, we’ll continue to take the fight to them and give assurances to the people that we won’t wait until they come and attack them,” he said.
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