From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) of the Nigerian military disclosed on Tuesday that it has deployed troops to the Tyo-Mu area in Benue State to forestall armed bandit attacks.
OPWS Commander Maj-Gen Adeyemi Yekini disclosed this to newsmen while conducting reporters around the Tyo-Mu general area where Governor Samuel Ortom was reportedly attacked by suspected armed herdsmen last Saturday.
Gen Yekini, who was at the site of the attack with the Security Adviser to Governor Samuel Ortom, Col Paul Hemba (retd), said that his troops immediately moved in to clear the area, adding that they would remain in the area for the next few days to patrol the area.
We are here to show you that the general area is clear of any bandits. The incidence is quite unfortunate and we immediately combed the area. We should not be judged by this singular incident. We have accepted it was a security breach and we are working to address it. We have made a lot of progress because before we came, Benue was a killing galore, but we have substantially restored peace in the state,’ the general said.
The OPWS Commander stated further that since coming on board three years ago, over 1,000 armed criminals have been neutralised, with close to 700 weapons recovered in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states, the highest number of arms recovery being made in Benue.
He urged the people of the state, especially in the Sankera axis of Ukum, Logo and Katsina-Ala, to cooperate with security agencies by giving useful information that would help them flush out criminals in the area.
The governor’s security adviser, meanwhile, who disclosed that five empty shells were recovered from the area, stated that no arrests have been made but that three local fishermen who reside in the area were invited for questioning after which they were allowed to go home.
Hemba, who commended the swift response of OPWS troops to the area, said as soon as the troops were alerted, they moved in to comb the area but that the armed bandits had run away by the time the troops arrived.
‘We are at the site of the unfortunate incident of the attack on Governor Samuel Ortom. He came into his farm and while touring the farm he went to a small market, and on his way back the gunmen, who were hiding in the bushes, opened fire on him.
‘We quickly alerted the OPWS and they immediately responded and gave them a hot chase and have been combing the bushes since then. We commend OPWS for their prompt response.
‘The troops combed the bushes and found some makeshift hideouts and burnt them. We couldn’t make any arrests because the bandits ran away as soon as the troops arrived,’ Hemba said.