Heavily armed herdsmen Saturday invaded and razed Miza community in Kupaland, Lokoja Local Government Area of Kogi State, destroying homes and other buildings, residents, police and local journalists told an online newspaper.
Police said the attack was carried out by Fulani tribesmen who accused the locals of killing their cows. Number of casualties could not be ascertained as the residents had fled, the police said.
Some witnesses said that news of an impending attack got to Miza residents a few days after the herdsmen launched an initial assault on the area, prompting many residents to flee to neighbouring communities.
An indigene of Miza, who craved anonymity said that herdsmen launched the latest attack hours after the state Police command held a peace meeting between the leaders of Miza and Fulani communities. He said the torching of Miza by the herdsmen shocked the people of Kupaland, who he said had co-existed with the Fulanis for decades.
He said many residents have fled to Lokoja, Minna and other neighbouring areas.
“We are surprised at the recent attack on our community because it came hours after we had a meeting at the Police headquarters in Lokoja, the Police had appealed to representatives of Kupa and Fulani communities to stop all forms of hostilities and allow peace to prevail in the area. Hours after the peace meeting, the herdsmen struck and ravaged our community,” the source said.
He said those who had taken refuge in neighbouring communities called to say that over 1,000 armed Fulani herdsmen were heading towards Miza. Not willing to engage the herdsmen, the people withdrew and the herdsmen set fire on the community, the resident added.
A local journalist said Miza had come under attack by suspected herdsmen earlier in the week. According to him, local vigilante repelled the attack and killed five of the suspected herdsmen while the others fled.
“Earlier in the week, some Fulani herdsmen had attacked Miza but the vigilante in the community repelled and killed five of them, however, one person from Miza and another from Gbeduma community lost their lives during the fighting,” said the journalist.
The Kogi State Commissioner for Information, Zainab Okino, confirmed the attack in a text message. The State Police Commissioner, Paul Okafor, who also confirmed that Fulani herdsmen attacked Miza but said the command had moved in to contain further hostilities in the area. “There has been crisis in the area and we have been trying to resolve the situation. We held a meeting with them yesterday and today (Saturday) we did the same thing,” Okino said.