Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The Operation WHIRL STROKE has debunked allegation of extra-judicial killings of Fulani and hundreds of their cattle leveled against it by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN).
Speaking at a press briefing, in Makurdi, on Tuesday, acting Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. John Ajim, described the allegation made by the Chairman of Nasarawa State branch of MACBAN, Mohammed Hussein, as completely false and unfounded.
“The truth of the matter is that on the 26th of June 2018, at about 6:00 in the morning, some troops of OPWS carried out a cordon and search operation at a suspected herdsmen militia camp in Barkin Kota Village in Keana local government area of Nasarawa State.
“After the initial success of the operation, the militia elements reorganised and attacked our team killing two soldiers and injuring five personnel including he officer commanding who led the operation.
“Following this incidence, some troops of OPWS were mobilized for reinforcement. In the fire fight that ensued, some of the militia must have sustained some casualties as we were able to extricate our men that were injured.
Gen. Ajim said in the course of the fighting, the OPWS troops recovered one AK47 riffle fitted with magazine, two locally made guns, one pistol, one axe and 800 rounds of 7.62mm special.
“This was the criminal group that our troops were able to destroy their camp. For the Nasarawa State Chairman of MACBAN to identify and associate with them as members of his association bugs for questions and answers.
“While the military is not in a hurry to link MACBAN to this militia, investigation has begun to unravel those behind the death of our men. The military is ready to take down those who are responsible alongside their sponsors no matter how highly placed.
Reeling out the achievements of the OPWS since its inception in the last two months, Ajim said the effort of the operation to restore peace and order in Nasarawa, Benue and Taraba states had yield positively as over 100,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are estimated to have returned to their homes across Benue state.
While disclosing that several suspects have been arrest with items recovered from them across the three states of operation, the acting Defence information Director stated that OPWS troops have continued to carry out special patrols f farmlands to sustain the peace and build confidence of displaced persons so that they can return to their economic activities.
“So far, OPWS troops have arrested 21 suspects and recovered 20 weapons and 882 rounds of assorted ammunition in Nasarawa, state. Similarly, the force has recovered three weapons, nine rounds of ammunition while 12 suspects were arrested in Taraba state.
“In addition, we have also recovered four weapons, and 169 rounds of ammunition as well as apprehended 13 suspects in Benue state since our operation commenced.”
He disclosed further that OPWS has been fully launched in Zamfara State and it is to be known as OPWS II with a separate commander appointed to oversee the Zamfara operation.