Benue Herdsmen Attacks: 2 Missing Policemen Found

By; DEKERA NICHOLAS, Benue

Two police officers who went missing in an ambush in Benue State have
been found unhurt, police said on Sunday.

The officers were amongst four mobile policemen who were declared
missing after a police patrol team drove into an ambush by suspected
herdsmen in Logo Local Government Area on Saturday afternoon.

But the remaining two officers are still missing, Benue police
commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, said in an update on Sunday morning.

“Two officers rejoined their colleagues. Unhurt. Hoping to see the
remaining two,” the commissioner said.

The returned officers appeared at the police station in Ayilamo, near
Azege town where the attack occurred, late last night. Rescue efforts
coordinated by the police had been underway since Saturday evening.

The commissioner of police in charge of mobile police officers arrived
the state Sunday morning to lead the search and rescue efforts, which
were still ongoing as at 11:40 a.m.

Another officer who sustained gunshot wounds is undergoing treatments
at the hospital in Ayilamo, residents and police sources said.

The men 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.

“We had had an encounter around Azege when a team of mobile police
went on confidence patrol,” said Mr. Owoseni said while confirming the
incident on Saturday night. “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.”

The attackers also burnt a police Toyota Hilux van after the officers
inside fled into nearby bushes.

The police said they’re expecting confirmation of casualties on the
side of the attackers, but no suspects had been arrested.

Enoch Nyikyaa, a chief in Logo LGA, said he had been to the police
station in Ayilamo and saw an officer receiving drips on Sunday
morning.

“The officer was not shot at all, I think he was tired from running
into the bushes he didn’t know well,” Mr. Nyikyaa said. “We thank God
he’s safe and pray that the rest policemen are found.”

Saturday’s attack is the first ambush against a police team in Logo
LGA since January 8 incident that left three officers dead.

The officers were on patrol in the wake of the January 1 attacks on
villages in Logo and Guma local councils that left over a hundred
people dead.

Seventy-three were given mass burial near Makurdi, the state capital,
on January 12.

The killings continued despite police’s announcement that over 1,000
special forces personnel had been deployed in Benue Nasarawa and
Taraba, the three states that have suffered heavy losses linked to
herdsmen.

The police have identified confidence-building in villagers as a key
part of their strategy to curb violent attacks.