The Inspector General of Police, IGP, Solomon Arase, yesterday shocked participants of the investigative hearing organised by the House of Representatives committee on the killings in Benue State by suspected Fulani herdsmen when he said only three people were killed in the recent Agatu Massacre.
While the Benue people testified that 500 Agatu people were killed and NSCDC said it was 300, the IGP maintained that only three people were killed, and said even though 18 people had been arrested in connection with the killings, there was no sufficient evidence to prosecute them.
The IGP in his testimony however, expressed regrets at the number of deaths saying that he was personally worried. He said his professional calling would not allow him to reveal all he was doing in the case, but that he had engaged all the parties in the crisis with a view to achieving peace. He said that paucity of funds, shortage of personnel, logistics and technology, were impeding police’s efforts in the crisis.
“We have apprehended some persons, may be investigation is rather slow. You must be able to assemble sufficient evidence to prosecute them. I don’t just want to prosecute people without securing conviction,” Arase stated. He appealed to the people to be patient with them, saying, “It is not as if we are not doing anything.” The IGP told the committee that he has also lost men in the crisis, which had rendered women widows and children orphans in their barracks.
The committee, concluded that it would hold further hearing with those from Agatu and the Idoma, as well as have the Benue State Commissioner of Police testify on the crisis.