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Military arrests killer of gov’s security aide, militias in Benue

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Nigeria Army. AFP PHOTO/SUSAN NJANJI

• Muslim community wants decisiveness on ranching from FG
Troops of the military Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), operating in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states, have arrested the leader of a notorious gang in Benue, Mr. Terwase Akwaza, and three other militias. One of the suspects has confessed to the killing of the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Samuel Ortom on Special Security, Mr. Denen Igbana, on February 20, 2016.

OPWS’ Force Commander, Maj.-Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, told newsmen yesterday in Makurdi that the arrest followed the military outfit’s clearance exercise last week in the three states.

He said the culprit was apprehended by troops of the 93 Battalion in Taraba State, and had since confessed to the killing of the governor’s security aide.

Yekini vowed that the military would not rest on its oars until the killer herdsmen and other militias behind the carnage in the affected states were flushed out.

He also revealed that during the week, Operation Dark Down and Operation Deadly Strike, backed by a Mi35 helicopter from the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and other surveillance aircraft, carried out raids around the lower Benue and Katsina Ala axes of the state to apprehend hoodlums that had been killing innocent civilians.

According to him, “on Saturday, June 16, 2018, OPWS, in conjunction with soldiers of the 72 and 93 Battalions, attacked and bombarded the camp of notorious militia leader, Mr. Terwase Akwaza, popularly known as ‘Gana’, at Ayaka in Katsina Ala, Benue State, and recovered weapons among other things.”

He continued: “Prior to the attack, NAF Mi35 Gunship Helicopter carried out aerial bombardment of the camp which led to the dislodgement of Gana and his armed men.

“In the ensuing melee, our troops recovered some personal effects of Gana suggesting he was in the camp as at the time of the attack.

“Notably, two members of the gang were captured while another member was arrested by the troops of 93 Battalion in Taraba State.

“The third gang member arrested in Taraba has already confessed to the killing of the former Security Assistant to Governor Ortom.”

Yekini said efforts were ongoing to ascertain the state and whereabouts of Gana.

He noted that in an earlier operation on Thursday, troops engaged herdsmen, who fled using cows as shield.

The military chief added that some of the herds were killed while the owners escaped with bullet wounds.

He further said: “Troops crossed from Benue into Nasarawa and proceeded to Okungbo where they conducted a search, leading to the arrest of four suspects, recovery of seven locally manufactured riffles and revolvers made to fire 7.62mm special ammunition.”

However, the Muslim community in the state has called on the Federal Government to deepen its support for ranching of livestock as endorsed by the National Economic Council.

The Islamic body made the appeal yesterday during Sallah homage to Governor Samuel Ortom at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi to mark the Eid -el Fitri.

Leader of the delegation and state chairman, Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Alhaji Garba Baba, described ranching as the lasting solution to the farmers-herders crisis.


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