Benue, Nigeria - Since Nigeria's presidential election on February 25th, Benue, a predominantly Catholic state in north-central Nigeria, has seen several deadly attacks by Fulani militants, with six counties affected.
The most recent attack occurred on March 7 in the village of Tse Jo. At least 20 residents were killed by about 40 attackers who arrived on motorbikes and used machetes to attack defenseless men, women, and children.
Women and children from Tse Jor and surrounding villages fleed to internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Naka, 20 miles west of Makurdi, due to the violence.
The security adviser to the Benue governor, Paul Hemba, said that the attackers likely avoided using rifles during this raid to avoid alerting the military. The military base is approximately seven miles south of Tse Jor.
He believes that the terrorists planned this attack knowing they would face little resistance. The rural area is remote and the military would need at least one hour to get to the attack site due to crude roads and lack of communication devices.
Father Remigius Ihyula, a priest administering aid in Makurdi, believes that the attackers' motive is terrorism and the desire to inflict pain and disperse populations to occupy the deserted areas.
He also said that there are more than 1 million people struggling to survive in makeshift camps due to terrorist raid. The attacks have depopulated large areas and prevented hundreds of thousands of small farmers from accessing their farms.
Attacks by Fulani terrorists claimed more than 50 lives of Catholic parishioners in the remote mountains of Kwande County from Feb. 26 to March 2, following the presidential election. The election certified Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, as the winner.
The APC is the known preference of the radicalized militias to win the pivotal presidential race, according to observers at the Denis Hurley Peace Institute. The institute argues that the APC win has emboldened the terrorists to attack with impunity.