Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The military spike operation codenamed Operation WHIRL STROKE says it had recently killed 12 militia men loyal to the wanted militia leader, Terwase Akwaza (Gana), at the end of a four simultaneous assaults on Gana’s hideouts in Sai, Katsina-Ala Local Government Area of Benue State.
OPWS Commander, Maj.-Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, disclosed this to newsmen in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, while giving an update on the activities of the operation, on Saturday.
Gen. Yekini also disclosed that Gana’s wife, Queen, had also lost her life during one of the encounters.
The operations Commander said following the heavy casualty they sustained at Sai, remnants of Gana’s militia group, on revenge mission, attacked the mobile police station in Zaki-Biam on October 18 at about 10:00a.m.
“The policemen on ground gave stiff resistance to the attackers while OPWS troops from four nearby locations as well as the 72 Battalion troops from Katsina-Ala were immediately mobilised to the location, thereby forcing the militia men to disperse into surrounding bushes.”
He stated further that some troops that have just been deployed to Zaki Biam metropolis to reassure the local populace of their safety also conducted a fighting patrol to Agena, Ayati and Sai in the hope to locate a soldier who was missing during the Sai attack.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t locate the missing soldier as the camp was empty. Our troops destroyed the camp before returning back to base around 1800 hours yesterday (Friday). We will continue to search for Gana until he and his men are brought to justice.”
The OPWS also revealed that it had recovered a total of 45 assorted weapons, 1,285 rounds of ammunition, 24 AK 47 even as 74 suspects have been arrested since the inception of the operation six months ago.
“Since our induction, OPWS troops have been conducting daily patrols, ambushes and raids operations across the three states (Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba) with the aim of putting a stop to incessant killings by armed herdsmen and other armed militia groups in the Joint Operations Area (JOA).”
Gen. Yekini, while focusing on five major operations conducted by the OPWS in the last two months, stated that three of the operations took place in Benue while remaining two operations took place in Taraba State.
He said the troops also carried out non kinetic activities in support of its offensive military operations adding that, “this is because of our firm belief that military operations alone might not be able to resolve some of the myriad of security challenges in our JOA and that peaceful discussions with stakeholders could go a long way in supporting the successful conduct of the operations.”