The Nigerian Army in conjunction with the Tactical Air Command of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has commenced a full scare joint operation tagged “Operation Whirl-Stroke to checkmate the increasing security challenges confronting Benue, Nassarawa, Taraba and Zamfara states.
The Operation which also involves the Navy and other sister organisations such as the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), DSS as well the Police is aimed at patrolling the flash points to flush out armed herdsmen who have occupied villages of local inhabitants in the affected states and are killing them with a view ensuring immediate return of the Internally Displaced Persons back homes.
Briefing journalists at the Headquarters of Tactical Air Command in Makurdi, the Acting Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General John Agim, warned the invaders to move out of the affected states as the operation was poised to launched heavy bombardment in their hideouts to crush them.
Brigadier General Agim explained that the Operation became necessary following directives by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin in consultation with Service Chiefs and commanders of other security agencies to restrategise and constitute the operation to ensure peace and security of lives and properties in the affected states.
Brigadier General Agim who said the Operation has enough men, resources and geospatial technology to execute the assignment, disclosed that the Operation had recorded milestones since it was launched early this month, as a total of 147 herdsmen and two close associates of the most dreaded criminal in Benue known as ‘Gana’, one Ada Kajo James and Tikaa Omen Desmond were arrested.
“Since the commencement of this operations, I am proud to state that it has recorded some successes in the above mentioned states. In Benue State, the following achievements we have been recorded within the period of the operation, the troops raided a local militia camp at Tse Utime Unudu in Mbawa Council Ward of Guma local government of Benue State during which one armed militia was killed 6 others were arrested while 2 AK 47 rifles, 14 rounds of 62 MM (special) ammunition and 34 rounds of 762 MM (NATO) were recovered from the assailants The suspects and items are in the custody of the military for further investigation Council”.
“Also, Ada Kajo James and Tikaa Omen Desmond both close associates of Monday Terwase popularly known as ‘Gana‘, the most dreaded militia in Benue state were arrested. Both suspects were arrested in connection with their involvement in the financing and provision of information to Gana and his syndicate. The suspects are in the custody of the State Security Services for further investigation”.
“On 10 May 18, at about 9pm, troops from Operation Whirl Stroke engaged herdsmen who attacked own troops as they were about crossing River Benue at Azege village in Logo LGA of Benue State heading towards Mbajimba village in Guma LGA. Reports at our disposal confirmed that the some herdsmen were believed to have carried out the attack in Takum LGA Taraba Stale before they moved to this location”.
Brigadier General Agim said troops had also attacked the Fulani militia in Ugya village of Toto local government area of Nasarawa state, discovered their camp, destroyed it and killed them.
According to him, items recovered included one Mak4 rifle, 5 Dane guns, one locally made pistol, 2 Mak 4 rifle magazines, 2 AK47 magazines 530 5.56 NATO rounds of ammunition, 127 rounds of 7 62mm special ammunition, 20 Mak 4 ammunition, 6 rounds of 9mm ammunition, 5 machetes, one axe, 41 cartridges, one locally made revolver mechanism, one mobile phone, charms and herbal medicines.
He solicited for the cooperation of people of the state and opinion leaders especially within the affected states and communities to permanently flush out the criminal elements.
Brigadier General Agim who said the Operation has no exact time limit within which to end the its assignment noted that already, the Commander of Operation has started visiting community heads, traditional rulers to cement relationship with them to further enhance their activities.