By Peter Duru
The real impact of the frequent attacks on Benue State communities over the years has begun to emerge, with the awful and disheartening sights that now greet anyone visiting the state. Formerly vibrant men, women and children, they have since been reduced to pathetic human wrecks following the relentless onslaughts by armed herders who take delight in attacking, maiming and forcing their hapless victims out of their homes and communities.
That is the unfortunate lot of these fellows who now go about as incomplete humans as their limbs and other vital parts of the body had since been violently chopped off by their assailants.
The lost their legs, hands and eyes to their assailants while fighting to retain their farmlands and places of abode.
Arewa Voice learnt that apart from claiming hundreds of lives, the attacks unleashed by armed herdsmen have also forced no fewer than two million persons to flee their communities for fear of losing their lives.While many successfully escaped in one piece and are currently taking refuge in several official and unofficial make-shift camps spread across the state, others were not so lucky.
Many who escaped being killed, however, suffered severe injuries and are currently living with disabilities inflicted on them by the invaders, especially in the notorious attack of 2018 New Year’s eve.
As a result of these attacks, Benue is projected to be home to over 300 amputees following the vicious attacks on the farming populace which has invariably added to the burden the state is shouldering, thereby contributing in no small measure to the worsening humanitarian crisis in the state.
A victim of the attacks, Vincent Tsavsar, who is an amputee, recalled how he lost his left limb and became incapacitated without the wherewithal to cater for his family. Tsavsar, 49, told AV in an interview: “I am from Tomatar Tyokuna. I lost my leg when Fulani mercenaries attacked my village in 2018 and killed several persons. They shot me on my lap while we were trying to escape from them.
I was lucky to have survived because I was mistaken for dead. But I was rushed to the hospital in Gbajimba and later brought to the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, BSUTH, in Makurdi where my life was saved. Though I survived the attack, my condition has made it impossible for me to farm to feed my family like I used to do. I now live on what we get from government and public-spirited individuals in addition to the little support from my children’s menial job to feed since we can no longer go to the farm since the herdsmen have taken over our communities.
“Life has not been easy for me since I lost my leg. But for the intervention of a non-governmental organisation which gave some of us with similar condition limbs, life would have been so difficult for us. But there are still many of us in several communities who lost legs and arms in the attacks who need help to be able to work again.”
Mrs. Matilda Gbaishima, whose NGO, Lion of Judah Women Global Initiative, LOJWGINIT, provides artificial limbs for victims of herdsmen attacks in the state, described the situation in which many victims of attacks have been exposed to, as a huge burden.
Mrs. Gbaishima, whose organisation has already given out 21 free limbs to amputees residing in IDPs camps, said that 75 of the amputees were initially identified in some of the camps but she was only able to convey 21 of them to get measured and collect the limbs. Some of them lost two arms, some lost two legs and some lost one arm or limb.
“But from feelers we are getting, we would have a figure of not less than 300 amputees from the herdsmen attacks in the state because right now some of their relatives are coming to register them in my office and some of them are coming on their own to access the registration for the next phase of our intervention.”