Killings by suspected cattle herders in Makurdi, Benue State in the middle belt region of Nigeria has created tensions and near breakdown of law and order. The mayhem caused the life of Reverend Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha including 17 parishioners of St. Ignatius Quasi Parish, Ukpor Mbalom, Ayar Mbalom village, Gwer East Local Government Area.
Previous killings by Fulani herdsmen had sparked tension in many areas of Makurdi which made the police to beef up security for fear of reprisal.
President Muhammadu Buhari described the killing as “vile, evil and satanic.” He said the killing of priests and worshipers was a calculated attempt to initiate religious conflict and plunge communities into endless bloodletting
He said the country under his leadership would not bow to the machinations of evildoers. He promised that the assailants would be hunted down and made to pay for the sacrilege committed.
“I extend my sincere condolences to the government and people of Benue State, the Mbalom community, and especially the Bishop, priests and members of the St Ignatius’ Catholic Church, whose premises was the unfortunate venue of the heinous killings by gunmen.
“This latest assault on innocent persons is particularly despicable. Violating a place of worship, killing priests and worshippers is not only vile, evil and satanic, it is clearly calculated to stoke up religious conflict and plunge our communities into endless bloodletting.”
The Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Diocese, Imo State, Anthony Obinna, who spoke through the Diocesan Media Director, Reverend Father George Nwachukwu described the killing as barbaric and inhuman just as he called on the appropriate authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.
According to him, the situation has thrown the churches into confusion, not knowing which man of God is next.
“What is happening in our society today is bad. I am not saying the Federal Government is not doing anything about it, but they are not doing much. I don’t know what the country is becoming; people are confused.
Today it’s there (Benue), who knows where next and who? It’s a sad situation. We don’t know exactly who is doing this but everybody knows that there is an amalgam of Boko Haram. You can’t differentiate them from each other. This is not good at all.”