The Delta State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday alleged that herdsmen have perfected a plot to kill more farmers in their host communities.
It said allegations by the Publicity Secretary of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) in a BBC Hausa service broadcast recently that 150 herdsmen and 300 cows were killed in the state this year was not true.
Secretary of CAN, Oke Akokotu, who spoke to journalists in Asaba, advised the leadership of the herdsmen in the state to desist from making inciting statements capable of causing public unrest.
He described the allegations as baseless, false, mischievous and atrocious, alleging that herdsmen in various communities in the state were holding secret meetings in recent times with a view to unleashing more terror on residents of their host communities.
But the State Commissioner of Police, Zanna Ibrahim, in a swift reaction, said the police were ready to bring any herdsman causing mayhem in the state to book and warned those holding secret meetings to desist from doing so.
Speaking further, Akokotu noted with dismay MACBAN's allegations and called on it to retract the statement and apologise to the Delta State government and their host communities.
CAN, however, called on the Police and the State Security Services (SSS) to hold talks with the traditional rulers in the state to ascertain the enormity of the atrocities committed by herdsmen in the past few years.
Meanwhile, MACBAN has denied allegations that herdsmen carried out the attack in which over 20 Irigwe people of Bassa local council of Plateau State were killed last Friday, insisting that the Police lied.
Following the attacks, Governor Simon Bako Lalong had assured that those found guilty in the genocide would not go unpunished.
The group said in an interview with its state Chairman and Legal Adviser, Nuru Abdullahi and Salihu Muhammad that the former Police Commissioner, Peter Ogunyanwo was biased in his statement alleging that the attack was a reprisal by suspected herdsmen.
Muhammad said: "The problem was that the police and especially the Commissioner of Police reached the conclusion that it was our people that carried out the attack even before investigation.
But MACBAN's spokesman, Muhammad Nuru Abdullahi and President of the Irigwe Development Association, Sunday Abdu, condemned the attack, as they agreed to collectively fight those causing violence in the council.
Also, the Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) said that they killed five gunmen who were going to attack a neighbouring community near Ancha village in Bassa council, adding that they could be the same assailants that carried the Friday attacks.
Its spokesman, Umar Adam said one of the soldiers was killed in the operation while another one was injured.
The killing in Ancha is the first of such in the state since the APC took over government in 2015.