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CAN, groups condemn withdrawal of OPWS troops from Benue, others


Benue State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has admonished the Federal Government to rescind its decision to withdraw troops of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) from troubled areas of Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states.

Its Chairman, Reverend Akpen Leva, argued that it was not yet safe for the withdrawal of military operations from Benue State in particular, insisting that any attempt to do so would endanger the communities and might result in several casualties.

According to CAN Chairman, peace has not returned to Benue State as herdsmen have continued killing farmers and other residents, wondering why the Federal Government decided to withdraw the troops of OPWS from the state even as there are still threats of attacks.

However, CAN commended the Federal Government for it efforts towards attainment of peace in the state, pointing out that the OPWS troops had foiled herdsmen attempts at attacking Benue communities that would have been bloody.“The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are still in camps in Benue State and any attempt to go to their ancestral homes always lead to death. It was part of the reasons why it was not safe to even contemplate withdrawal of the troops from the state in the first instance,” Leva stated. He, therefore, urged the Federal Government to urgently work towards resettlement of the IDPs, noting that about two years after government made the pronouncement that it would resettle the IDPs, it was yet to resettle them.

Besides, the Mdzough U Tiv, Ochetoha K’ Idoma and Omi Ny’ Igede have appealed to the Federal Government to shelve its decision to withdraw men of OPWS from Benue and neighbouring states of Taraba and Nasarawa.

The groups in a joint statement issued by their leaders, Chief Edward Ujege, Amali Adoya Amali and Ben O. Okpa, said withdrawal of the troops now would make their people susceptible to attacks by herdsmen and armed bandits.The Federal Government had advanced reasons for the intended withdrawal of OPWS troops from Benue and the two other states believing that peace has been restored in the states.

“We find the reports not only shocking, but also ill-advised and ill-timed, coming at a time when militia herdsmen usually attack and kill our people with reckless abandon and impunity.“We wish to state categorically that absolute peace has not returned to Benue State and we are still vulnerable to herdsmen attacks and destruction of lives and property. “We wish to inform the world that between January and December 2019, there have been over 10 recorded herdsmen attacks. Most of the attacks are never reported because it seems the media has become bored with the continuous aggressions,” the statement added.


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