Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Troops of the Joint Military/ Paramilitary operation codenamed Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) operating in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states, have arrested 19 suspects in different parts of Benue and Nasarawa for various offences, including banditry, kidnapping and gun-running.
Parading the suspects yesterday at the OPWS headquarters in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, Commander of OPWS, Maj. Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, revealed that it was the biggest arrest of the deadliest groups since the inception of the operation in the three states
Yekini disclosed that 10 of the suspects were arrested in Gboko Local Government Area, while three members of the gang of wanted militia leader, Terwase Akwaza alias ‘Gana’, were arrested during a raid at Gana’s hometown in Gbishe, Katsina-Ala Local government area of the state.
Others paraded were Atara and Imbwase (aka Don Moji), who he described as major armourers and suppliers of weapons to Gana and two other suspected kidnappers who were arrested at Umaisha in Toto LGA of Nasarawa State.
He said :”Gentlemen, you have seen and interviewed the suspects and I can tell you with every sense of responsibility that this crop of criminals are perhaps, the most deadly set of criminals that we have ever arrested since the inception of Operation Whirl Stroke and our hope is that, the prosecuting authorities will do a good job so that the hoodlums would be removed from the society for a very long time.
“You will recall that some weeks back, we had a press briefing during which I promised that we shall be focusing on how to break the weapons supply chain that have been fuelling criminality in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States.
“I am very happy to inform you that we have been able to record some successes. Our star suspect today is Don Moji, the number one weapon supplier to Gana. He is responsible for between 80 and 90 percent of weapons that Gana has been using to terrorise the people of Benue state. Our intelligence team got wind of Don Moji’s activities about four months ago somewhere around Abuja.
“Just as we were closing in on him to effect his arrest at Abuja, he suddenly disappeared and reappeared a few days later at Owode Idiroko in Ogun state.
“We again sent troops to the area to arrest him, but again he disappeared and for almost two months, we lost track of him. During this period, he did a lot of things to cover his tracks and hide his identity”.
“So, when he was sure that he had covered himself well enough after the two months period, he appeared again at Abuja to continue his weapons supply activities to Gana.
“This time around, he was not that lucky as we were able to arrest him with the support of Guards Brigade troops. We tracked him to somewhere between Kashi and Kurudu in Abuja where we arrested him”, Yekini explained.
Yekini stated that during interrogation,Don Moji led troops of the operation to the main armourer of Gana who is based somewhere in the North Bank area of Makurdi.
“That is how we got three members of the ring, though there are up to four other members of the gang who are still on the run. We are trailing them from Benue up to Plateau State down to Taraba. So, youncan now see how the weapons supply ring extends from Benue to Plateau and Taraba States.