The people of Gbeji community in Ukum Local Government Area, LGA, of Benue State have rejected the sympathy message sent to them by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, over the recent herdmen killings in the area, describing it as a mockery.
Alhaji Abubakar had sent a message of sympathy to the community after the attacks that left about 39 people, including two policemen, dead and many hospitalized.
In the message the Presidential candidate said “I’m saddened by the sustained clashes between farmers and herders that led to the loss of lives, including those of police officers in Gbeji community, Ukum LGA of Benue State.
“When our people are well integrated into communities where they live, work, pay taxes and raise their children, they’d be obligated to reciprocate the love and acceptance. My deepest condolences to the families that may have lost a loved one and to the people and government of Benue State.”
Rejecting the sympathy message, the eldest child of Gbeji and Market Overseer, Elder Jonathan Gbeji, in a statement he signed on behalf of the community, rejected the condolence message which he said was meant to ridicule the people.
The rejection message read before leaders of Gbeji community at RCM Primary School, Ankyagher stated that “We members of the Gbeji community are disappointed with the statement by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar that there was farmers and herders’ clash in Gbeji which claimed lives including those of policemen.
“What happened in Gbeji last Wednesday, 19th October, 2022, was an unprovoked attack by armed Fulani militia, on the people around 6am.
“For Alhaji Atiku to talk about integration does not arise in Gbeji as the attackers do not live among us. After the unprovoked attack many people visit us including Senator Gabriel Suswam and other members of the National and State Assemblies who also visited the mortuary and saw some of the bodies of those killed.
“That Alhaji Atiku who is supposed to be the big shelter of the Tiv people, the Zege Mule u Tiv, does not believe people have been killed in spite of media reports and eyewitness accounts is the height of insensitivity.
“Alhaji Atiku should have taken time to visit us, or send assistance to alleviate our humanitarian problems is the least that we expected at this time. As at today the death toll has risen to 39 with many still missing while others are in various hospitals.
“If anyone cannot help us in our time of distress he should not mock us. We therefore, reject Alhaji Atiku’s statement which we regard as mockery.”