Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Indications emerged on Wednesday that steps have been to tackle the nagging issue of herdsmen/farmers clashes in parts of Delta State when two military helicopters were sighted hovering over Ughelli and its environs.
Besides, several military vehicles were seen patrolling the communities, in what was learnt to be part of a two-day special combined operation of the Joint Task Force codenamed Operation Delta State (ODS), officials of the Department of State Security and the police.
The development, however threw residents into panic, leading to temporary halt of socio-economic activities.
Residents who noticed the presence of the military and the two hovering chopper confirmed the incident. They added that the sight of security operatives created tension and fears among residents.
It would be recalled that the state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa raised alarm that herdsmen had taken over communities in Ughelli where they were demanding money from crop farmers before they could access their farms.
Our correspondent learnt that the operation was targeted at discovering herdsmen’s camps in the area with a view to dislodging the blood tasty goons.
Security sources informed that the two-day operation would include aerial and land surveillance.
Residents in Uwheru, Agadama and Ohoro, which have been under attack by herdsmen, said heavily armed security personnel in military vehicles stormed their communities and menacingly patrolled the streets.
They claimed that their communities and others have suffered sustained attacks by herdsmen, leading to the killing of several persons with farmers being deprived from entering farmlands by suspected arms wielding herdsmen.
A top security source who does not want to named confirmed the operation, and said the exercise was not unconnected with the spate of attacks by suspected herdsmen in the area.
The source stated that although they were able to uncover herdsmen hideout, the hoodlums had allegedly fled their camps before the arrival of the security team.
Contacted in Asaba, the State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Andrew Aniamaka also confirmed the development, and added that it was a surveillance exercise at ensuring peace reigned in the area, urging residents to remain calm.
According to him, “Everything that must be done within the law must be done to ensure that the people sleep with their eyes closed. It is the duty of the government and security agencies to ensure that the people feel safe.”