Mr Cusmas Ofe will never forget June 2, 2022 in his life because of what happened to him.
On that day, the 27-year-old health attendant escaped death in the most miraculous manner after some herdsmen had ripped his intestines open with bullets.
On his hospital bed at the emergency ward of Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital (DASH) Lafia two months after the incident, the expression on his face was an admixture of pain, anger and despondency even though he expressed gratitude for remaining alive in spite of the ugly encounter with heartless killer herders.
On the fateful day, according to him, he being an official of the Nasarawa State Ministry of Health, had just finished attending a meeting of health attendants in Lafia, the state capital, and was returning to his base at Adudu but stopped over at Imom village in Obi Local Government Area, where the hospital he works with is located.
By the time he continued his journey to Adudu at about 7 pm, he ran into the herdsmen who opened fire on him while he rode on a motorcycle, tearing his stomach with an AK47 rifle and blowing his intestine open.
Miraculously, he managed to ride the motorcycle to his destination drenched in blood.
Narrating the events that culminated in the unprovoked attack, Ofe said he was still wondering how an otherwise smooth journey suddenly turned into a nightmare.
He said: “My name is Cusmas Ofe. I am 27 years old. I work as a health attendant at Imom Hospital, Obi Local Government Area, Nasarawa State.
On June 2, 2022, I attended a meeting at the state’s Ministry of Health in Lafia.
“On my way back from Lafia, I got to Adudu, a major settlement where I am based in Obi Local Government Area. But I had taken some registers to the meeting in Lafia.
“So I decided to move straight to Imom Hospital where I work in order to keep the files there before returning to Adudu. The distance between Adudu and Imom is about 20 kilometres.
“As I was returning from Imom Hospital to Adudu on my motorcycle around 7 pm, I heard a gunshot from an unknown direction.
“I told myself that the sound was that of a gunshot hence I should speed up and get out of the area. Unknown to me, the sound of gunshot actually came from the direction I was to pass through.
“As I tried to speed off from the area, I received a gunshot right in my stomach and the bullet tore through my stomach and blew out my intestine. I started bleeding profusely and I lost control of the motorcycle as my legs went off the break and the gear. I thought I was going to die.
“While I was struggling with the motorcycle to regain control, I heard a voice from the gunmen who spoke Hausa saying that I would.
“On hearing that, I mustered courage and immediately regained control of the motorcycle, knowing full well that they would kill me if I fell.
“Luckily, I was able to gather some strength in spite of the terrible bleeding from the gunshot wounds I sustained.
“I continued the journey until I got to Adudu. While I was speeding off, there were sounds of gunshots behind me but I moved on.
“I headed straight to a nearby hospital in Adudu but the hospital did not have the equipment and capacity to manage my condition because the bullet completely tore my stomach and exposed my intestines.
“They later got a vehicle and transferred me to Dalhatu Arab Specialist Hospital (DASH) Lafia.”
Ofe said the matter was immediately reported to the police, who promised to investigate the matter when he is fit enough to lead them to the scene of the incident.
“One thing I am sure of is that those who shot me were herdsmen, because I saw them,” he added
He recalled that the car that was following him closely behind was also hit bybullets from the guns used by his attackers.
Ofe believes that it was not a case of robbery attack otherwise the hoodlums would have tried to stop vehicles and steal money from their victims. He also noted that after the attack, the herdsmen ran back into the bush
He noted that the menace of the herdsmen was threatening the peace of the area, insisting that the men he saw did not act like they were ordinary armed robbers.
He said: “The activities of herders in the area of attacks on residents are disturbing and dreadful. Apart from their evil deeds on the farms, there have been occasions they came into town to unleash terror on our people.
“The attack on me happened on a straight stretch of the road. They did not erect any barricade on the road and they did not rob anybody.
“After shooting, they ran back into the bush. I believe that the intention of those herdsmen now is to run the entire Tiv people out of Nasarawa State
“I thank God for saving my life that very day. I don’t really know how to thank and praise His name. My life and that of every other person belongs to God and I return all glory to him
“Once I get back to my feet, I will organise a thanksgiving mass to praise God. I am sure he saved my life for a purpose. I think God wants me to be alive to serve him.”
He noted that life would have been miserable for his young wife and two little kids if he had died as his exit would have weighed them down.
“Life would have been miserable for my young wife and her two little kids,” he said.
“They would have felt like the world has turned against them.
“But I thank God for saving my life. The gunshot was meant to kill me.
“Many others have passed through the evil activities of these herdsmen. Our people have not been having peace.
“Between June 2nd and now, many of such terrible incidents have happened, sending them to early graves, especially the Tiv farmers.
“I am appealing to government to intervene and come to our aid. We the Tiv farmers are actually suffering at the hands of herdsmen because after the incident involving me, more grievous cases have occurred and many people have been sent into early graves.”
Disillusioned by the repeated attacks on his fellow Tiv indigenes, Ofe said they are being made to feel like second class citizens in their own state as no one seemed to be on their side.
He said: “Majority of our people have cheated death but lost their sources of livelihood, shelter and other our belongings. Our things have been completely destroyed in several attacks.
“Our people have constantly and quietly mourned their human and material losses and licked their wounds with little or no succour from the authorities concerned.
“We can’t even go to our farms again because we don’t know when herdsmen would attack us. We are living in fear. Our farms are being destroyed without anyone to help us. Government should provide security for our people.
“In Adudu where I reside, we have no peace. Our people are living in fear. If the herdsmen meet you on the farm with a new motorcycle, they will quietly ask you for the key and go away with it.”
Ofe recalled that at Adudu, he met a police team from the Awe police division and told them what happened but the atmosphere was chaos at the time because of persistent gunshots from the direction.
“I thought I would get help from the police patrol team but they rushed into their vehicles and zoomed off,” he said
He appealed to government to appeal to the leadership of the herders to call their people to order so that there would be free movement, peace and security in the area and for the people to return to their farms and boost the economy.
“We appealed to the government to let them know that they should leave the farms for the farmers to grow their crops and also allow the roads to be free for movement. The promises made by government to secure our people have not been fulfilled.
“These attacks occur on a daily basis. Many more are happening in the bushes, on the farms, on our roads and even in our houses,” he said.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the Nasarawa State Command, Ramhan Nansel, said investigation into the attack had commenced.