Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The military operation code-named Operation WHIRL STROKE (OPWS) says it has arrested three lieutenants of wanted militia leader, Terwase Akwaza, alias Gana, among them, the killer of late Special Assistant to Governor Samuel Ortom on Special Security, Denen Igbana.
Recall that Igbana was killed on Friday, May 20, 2016, at his Tionsha, Makurdi residence by gunmen who laid ambush for him and rained bullets on him as soon as he arrived home at about 12 midnight.
Commander of OPWS, Maj.-Gen. Adeyemi Yekini who disclosed this while briefing pressmen, on Tuesday, in Makurdi, said the arrest were made after troops of OPWS in conjunction with 72 and 93 Battalion soldiers, following a tip off, attacked Gana’s camp at Ayaka in Katsina-Ala local government area of Benue State.
While noting that before the attack, NAF Mi35 Gunship Helicopter had carried out an aerial bombardment of the camp which led to the successful dislodge meant of of Gana and his marked men, Yekini said in the ensuing melee, troops recovered some personal effects of the wanted militia leader, a development which suggested that he was in the camp at the time of the attack.
“During a search of the camp, troops recovered one gun, one pistol, seven rounds of 7.62mm 9mm special ammunition. Notably, two members of the gang were captured while another member of the gang was arrested by troops of the 93 Battalion towards Taraba State. The third gang member arrested in Taraba has already confessed killing the former Security Assistant to Governor Ortom.
He explained that the bombardment of Ayaka lasted for two days with a mop up exercise in search of Gana and his armed men on Sunday which led to the recovery of ten magazines of AK47 adding that on the same day, some men were sighted loitering around the destroyed camp after the troops had withdrawn.
“Promptly, the air component of OPWS deployed the Mi35 helicopter which attacked and neutralized the men. At the moment, spirited and indefatigable efforts are ongoing to ascertain the current status and whereabouts of the notorious militia leader. For OPWS, the termination to track, apprehend and bring Gana and his armed men to justice is a task that must be done.”
Gen. Yekini who explained that the OPWS launched two operations code-named Operation Dark Down and Operation Deadly Strike across Benue and Nasarawa States to ensure a peaceful Sallah celebration adding that the operations were supported by the Mi35 helicopter from the Nigerian Air Force and other surveillance aircrafts.
He said the troops also ambushed a group of about 40 herdsmen with approximately 3000 heads of cattle at Kwatan Gyemu, some of whom were armed with AK47 Assault Riffle.
“Troops engaged the armed herdsmen who fled using cows as shield. Some of the cos were killed while some of the herdsmen escaped into surrounding bushes with gunshot wounds. Four motorcycles abandoned by the fleeing herdsmen were recovered. Our troops pursued the herdsmen and thereafter burned their camp close to River Benue.”