From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
At least 17 suspected kidnappers reportedly loyal to late Benue militia warlord Terwase Akwaza, alias Gana, have been arrested by a combined team of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) and other security agents.
The suspects, according to the Security Adviser to Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, Col Paul Hemba (retd), were responsible for the kidnap of some Taraba youths last week Wednesday.
Addressing newsmen on Monday, the Security Adviser said the security team was able to rescue 19 of the 23 kidnap victims from the suspects.
‘On 27 January 2021, some criminal elements linked to late Gana kidnapped 23 persons along Wukan-Takum road. Their aim was to trigger the inter-communal crisis between the Tiv and Jukum tribe in that axis so that they can have a respite from the pressure on them from the security forces.
‘Consequently, a combined team of troops of Operation Whirl Stroke, 72 Special Forces Battalion, 93 Battalion, and Mobile Policemen from Takum raided suspected hideouts where the victims were kept at Ajon, Igbudu and Tor Donga axis.
‘The team was able to rescue 19 out of the 23 abducted victims and are in search of the remaining four.
‘The troops arrested 17 bandits in connection with the kidnap incident during the raid operation in different parts of Katsina-Ala Local Government Area. They are currently being profiled by the DSS at 93 Battalion location in Takum Local Government Area,’ Hemba stated.
Some youths from Takum local government area of Taraba were on Wednesday abducted by gunmen along Wukari-Takum road.
Daily Sun learned that the youths, between 18 and 22, had been returning from a wedding in Wukari in a Toyota Hummer bus at about 8.30 am when they ran into a group of gunmen between Chechenji and Kofai Ahmadu villages.
The gunmen had reportedly hijacked the vehicle they were travelling in and drove the passengers, including the driver of the bus, to an unknown destination. The gunmen were said to have thereafter driven from Kofai Ahmadu village in Taraba and headed for Benue axis.
Sources from the area had pointed accusing fingers at the notorious Gana boys said to have been flushed out of Benue due to activities of operation Whirl- Stroke going on in Benue State.