Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Defence Headquarters has said that it was not withdrawing its military operation “Whirl Stroke”, from Benue State as it is being speculated by the state government.
Rather the DHQ, said what it was doing is a “drawdown”, of the operations having achieved its set goals and targets which is to reduce herders/farmers clashes, ethnic rivalries among other crisis bedeviling the region.
This much was explained in a telephone interview by the director Defence information Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu, with Daily Sun in Abuja.
The interview followed the decision by Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari over speculations that the military Operation Whirl Stroke may be withdrawn from Benue on the account that peace has been restored in the state.
Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachuku, in the interview, said there was no need for the government and good people of Benue state to panic over the withdrawal of troops of operation Whirl Stroke, as the process according to him, would not be immediate.
Besides, he said some troops would remain on ground to take care of any eventuality that may arise even as he assures that there would not be any.
Nwachukwu, explained that like every other military operations, it was normal for the military to wind up and withdraw its troops after every successful operations, especially when the set goals and targets of such operations have been achieved.
According to him, “Operation whirl stroke has been there for over one year and half it mandates is of course is to restore peace, law and order in the Benue region. Particularly the herders farmers clashes and of course the banditry activities there.
“And to a reasonable extent, that has been achieved, normalcy and peace has been restored in that part of the country and it is very normal that when a mandate or the mission has been achieved, the operation will begin to drawdown.
“Its not a complete shutdown, please take note of this. It’s not a complete shutdown, it’s a drawdown, it’s like you are winding down. So it’s not an immediate thing like shutting down at once, no!
“It is normal that when an operation has achieved its mission,it will begin to wine-down and it is going to be done over a period of time.
“When the benchmark that is set for the operation has been attained, it’s important that the operation begins to wine down, its a normal thing. It’s not a shutdown having achieved the set goals and targets.
“So there is no need for any panic. Remember that we were in Sierra Leone during the civil war in that country and when we achieved our mission under the auspices of ECOMOG, at the time, we began to wind down to reduce our presence there. But certain things like I told you, those benchmark have been achieved and these include the reduction in clashes, almost outright reduction in the clashes between the herders and the farmers and all those ethnic rivalry. peace has been restored, socio economic life has been restored, socio economic development has been restored and people are going about their normal businesses and there have been town-hall meetings and all of that to bring the stakeholders together to make peace and discuss peace and foster peace. Those benchmarks have been achieved.
“I just gave you an example of our mission in Sierra Leone and LIBERIA so it’s not a complete shutdown, it’s a drawdown so people should not panic about it.
“We assure the government that the forces that would be left on ground would be able to handle whatever situations that may crop up even though we are not envisaging any situation anyway.
“So It’s going to be a gradual process and the operation of course and the leadership of the operation have been directed to liaise with the two state government that are involved that is Benue and Taraba states”.