One of the two policemen declared missing after an encounter with Fulani herdsmen in Benue State on Saturday has been found dead.
Four policemen were initially declared missing after they were ambushed by herdsmen in Tse Akpan in Logo Local Government but two returned unhurt.
The policeman’s body was found in the bush in Azege, Tombo Ward yesterday by a police search team. It was dismembered.
Benue Police spokesman Moses Yamu said the body had been deposited in the mortuary.
He did not disclose the name and rank of the policeman but said the police would remain undaunted in their efforts to tackle insecurity.
There is no trace yet of the remaining policeman, he said.
Also yesterday, bodies of two officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were found in Awanger village in Guma Local Government. They were also believed to have been killed by herdsmen.
No official of the NSCDC was available to comment yesterday.
Also yesterday, the Catholic Church prayed for the repose of the souls of the victims of the attacks.
The mass was organised by the four Catholic Dioceses of Makurdi, Gboko, Otukpo and Katsina-Ala.
The Chairman of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, urged Benue people to unite in the face of the security challenges.
Rev. Kaigama, who spoke at the memorial mass for the 73 victims of herdsmen attacks, said the people needed to unite and form a common front devoid of political, religious and traditional sentiments to tackle the security challenges in the state.
The cleric promised to make a case on the plight of the people to the CBCN for consideration.
Bishop William Avenya of Gboko Diocese said the site where the 73 victims were buried would be turned into a pilgrimage centre and a monument of prayer.
Avenya said the deceased would be immortalised so that they would be remembered for centuries to come.
The cleric also urged the people not to lose hope, stressing that God would never forsake them.
He called on security agencies to hunt down and prosecute the killers, adding that justice must be given to Benue people.
The bishop, however, warned the people against posting provocative statements on the social media to heighten tension.
Governor Samuel Ortom expressed appreciation to the Catholic Church for organising the memorial mass. He praised the church for standing for justice and the oppressed, promising that his administration would continue to listen and act on its advice.
Ortom vowed that he would not relent in carrying out the wishes of the electorate.
Tor Tiv, others reject Operation Cat Race
Benue paramount traditional ruler – the Tor Tiv – along with some stakeholders yesterday rejected the military exercise Operation Cat Race due for launch this weekend in Benue and other states where the herdsmen killings are prevalent.
The operation has a Tiv language code name Ayem Akpatuma.
The military said last week that its intention is to flush out the killer-herdsmen within the six-week operation.
But the Tor Tiv and the others made their views known to the sub-committee of the Panel led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The panel was raised by the Federal Government to find a permanent solution to the killings..
Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi led the team to Benue.
The Tor Tiv Prof. James Ayatse in his submission, expressed concern about the committee, considering the comments credited to some top government officials including Inspector general of police Ibrahim Idris and Minister of Defence Manir Dan Ali.
Prof. Ayatse noted that if the IG described the killings in Benue as communal and the Minister of Defence said the blockade of grazing reserves and routes led to the killings, people could imagine the kind of report that would come out from such a committee.
Pastor Dave Ogbole said they had no confidence in the planned joint military operation because the date of their arrival had been announced ahead of time.
“The motive of operation Ayem Akpatuma is nothing but to harasses our youths as they already had a notion that Governor Ortom armed the youths.
Former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mike Aondoakaa told the committee that ECOWAS Protocol provided that any one bringing cattle into the country must be registered and show his passport .
Aondoakaa added that it was wrong to just allow cattle into the country because some might be infected with dangerous diseases likely to cause an epidemic.