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Troops not overwhelmed, overstretched by security challenges in Benue, says commander

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The Force Commander of the military Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), Maj.-Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, yesterday said that his troops were neither overwhelmed nor overstretched by the security challenges in the three states of their operation.

Yekini maintained that the troops started operation in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states in July 2018 following daunting security challenges occasioned by the activities of armed herdsmen and armed militias in these states, adding that they had been working round the clock to keep all armed elements away from the three states.

He stated this while reacting to a statement credited to Governor Samuel Ortom on Monday that the security agencies are doing their best but are overstretched and overwhelmed, adding that the armed herdsmen sometimes have superior weapons.

His words: “We are not overstretched or overwhelmed. Every military operation has a mandate and we believe we have substantially fulfilled our mandate not just in Benue but also in Nasarawa and Taraba states.

“We know how we met Benue State in particular when we got here. The security situation then was characterised by mass killings by armed herdsmen and other acts brigandage by warlords such as Gana and Ojoundu who carved out parts of the state for themselves.

He said within a short period of operation, the OPWS succeeded in flushing out all these criminals and also curtailed the activities of armed herdsmen, which had now been reduced to occasional skirmishes with troops.

The force commander said his troops had so far recovered close to 300 assorted weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition in the three states as well as destroyed all identified militia camps, especially in Benue.

According to the OPWS commander: “We made it possible for the Benue State Government to reassert political authority over places like Katsina-Ala, Gbishe, Gawa and so many other rural communities in Logo, Ukum and Kwande local councils, which were hitherto being controlled by some of these warlords.”

“We assisted greatly in preserving Benue as the food basket of the nation in spite of all odds. Benue today is exporting trailer loads of foodstuff to other parts of the country almost on daily basis thereby boosting the state’s internally-generated revenue (IGR).”

Yekini said his troops eliminated hundreds of armed militia-men and apprehended hundreds of others as well as facilitated the voluntary return of close to 300,000 Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs) mostly in Benue.

“We acknowledge that some are still in camps and we will continue to work hard to get them back home. We brought back social life to Makurdi and other key towns in Benue State, which were badly affected by the crisis at the time.

“We kept the Makurdi-Lafia-Abuja highway open on 24 hours basis for use of commuters, including high government officials in Benue State who ply the road to Abuja. We kept open other key highways, including the reopening of the Takum-Katsina-Ala road linking Taraba with Benue, which Gana closed for several years unchallenged. We also ensured the reopening of the Makurdi-Naka-Ankpa Road, which was deserted by motorists for months and taken over by armed herdsmen.”


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