By Akioyamen Josephine
The Benue State Government has stated that there won’t be a mass burial organized by the Government for the 27 Victims of Fulani Herdsmen killings at Omusu-Edumoga, in Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State. Instead, the state government has opted for their burial in their respective family compounds after a church service slated for the 15th of March, 2018.
This was contained in a post made on his Facebook wall by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Benue State Mr Terver Akase thus:
There won’t be a mass burial of victims of the Fulani herdsmen attacks in Okpokwu tomorrow. A church service followed by burial of the victims will take place on Thursday next week in Okpokwu.
Pls spare a moment tonight and pray for the innocent souls.
Mr Francis Olofu Ogwuche, the chairman of the Okpokwu in an expanded explanation of the rationale for the change of heart by the Government stated in a post made to Josephine Akioyamen Facebook wall that the Government is acting in accordance to the wishes of the family of the victims thus:
Josephine,it is not deceit that mass burial is not holding.Traditionally the families of the deceased opposed the burial at one designated spot. Everyone want his corpse buried in their family house, and those women married from other communities cannot be buried at omusu but their villages as demanded by idioma cultural rite. We explained this to his Excellency and he express this misconception of what people are now commenting,After the open air mass we will ensure that all corpses get to their families and they will be supported in all ways to continue the usual burial ceremonies.Everything that happens in casa of Gina(Guma) and logo (Logo) shall happen,praise politicians for once.we are pleased with his his commitments,he is standing by us. I hope you will attend.contact me for more information.
The Mass Burial was to have served to gin up the conscience of the Nigerian public against the ineptitude of the Federal Government in its response to the herdsmen onslaught. They were to serve as a shrine in memory of the victims. Last and most significantly, they were to serve as a historical evidence of the crime against humanity committed in Benue. The state government was leery of making the same mistake it made in Agatu in February 2016 of not documenting the dead, of not doing a mass burial, of not putting these facts in the public sphere such that a former IGP Arase before the House of Representatives said on May 28, 2016, that only 3 persons died in Agatu and not 500. It was presumed that a mass burial would have shut him up and revealed the perfidy of the Federal Government of Nigeria. All of that seemed to have been washed away by the superior flood of Idoma customary law as regards burial.