Military kills 21 herdsmen militia in Benue, Nasarawa
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja and George Okoh in Makurdi
President Muhammadu Buhari Monday resumed duty in the State House, Abuja, presiding over a Security Council meeting and ordering the service chiefs to raise the tempo of security operations in the country with a view to guaranteeing peace and safety of citizens.
While the meeting received disturbing security reports from the North-east, reports from Benue, Zamfara States and the Niger Delta showed a great degree of improvement.
Buhari had returned from a 10-day working vacation to the United Kingdom on Saturday and immediately transmitted a letter to the National Assembly, announcing his return to Nigeria and consequent take-over of the reins of power from Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo who had acted in that capacity since August 3.
Briefing journalists at the end of the meeting, which lasted for two and half hours, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, said the meeting reviewed security situations in all parts of the country and participants made submissions.
According to him, the service chiefs briefed the president on the successes recorded from their various operations and the president instructed them to increase the tempo of their operations in such a way that the safety of citizens could be guaranteed and everyone proceeding on his/her activities without any fear of insecurity.
“We just had two and half hours’ meeting with the President and Commander-in-Chief. We reviewed the security situation across the country in all the geopolitical zones and of course, we made all our comments, especially the new operations in Benue, Zamfara, Taraba operation WISE stroke, and operation (Saradaji).
“We gave the extent of successes in these operations and we are to continue in this line of action in these operations. All the operations were reviewed and all the issues concerning the operations were dealt with. And he directed that we should continue to step up our game to ensure that the nation is safe and people go about their daily activities in a very safe manner,” Olonisakin stated.
Also speaking, the Minister of Defence, Brig. Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd), described the meeting as a routine security briefing with the president, adding that it was a mere update on the last one held on August 2, a day before the president left Nigeria.
According to him, whereas the meeting received disturbing security reports from the North-east, reports from Benue, Zamfara States and the Niger Delta showed a great degree of improvement. However, he said the North-east situation had been critically looked into and the council had taken a decision on how to address it.
“This is a normal routine security briefing with Mr President. He just came back. So, we briefed him on all the activities we had while he was away. It’s an update on the August 2nd Meeting.
“The decision that has been taken is that we have seen that there is a lot of improvement in the security situation in the country most especially in Zamfara and Benue States and in the Niger Delta. In the North-east, we are having worrisome reports. We have looked into it critically and we have taken absolute decision,” he said.
Present at the meeting were: National Security Adviser, Maj-Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd.); Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Abubakar Sadique; Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr. Ahmed Abubakar; Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris; and the Acting Director General of Department of State Service (DSS), Mr. Matthew Seiyefa.
Military Kills 21 Herdsmen Militia in Benue, Nasarawa
The special military operation code named ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’ (OPWS) yesterday announced that it neutralised a group of herdsmen militia in a shoot-out in Benue and Nasarawa States and killed 21 of them while others sustained injuries.
The Force Commander, Operation Whirl Stroke, Major General Adeyemi Yekini, disclosed this while briefing journalists at the Tactical Air Command Headquarters Makurdi, on the activities and achievements of the OPWS.
He said the herdsmen were neutralised, while one soldier lost his life, two others sustained various degrees of injuries, adding that the injured soldiers are responding to treatment at the military hospital.
Yekini stated that troops of sector 2 with the headquarters at Tormatar supported by the Force Reserve, conducted clearing operations along Gbajimba-Akor axis in Guma Local Government Area, made contact with armed militia moving with large herds of cattle close to boundary between Benue and Nasarawa States and engaged them in gun duel.
According to him; the troops and the armed herdsmen militia exchanged fire for about two hours while reinforcements were sent to support the troops and in the process, 21 of the herdsmen were killed while weapons and ammunitions were recovered from the herdsmen.
He noted that based on intelligence gathering, the troops have commenced riverine patrol on riverine areas along Benue river basin to ensure safety at the river banks, disclosing that, a total of 135,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have so far returned home and now engaging in farming activities across Benue and Nasarawa States in particular.
Yekini stated that plans are in progress to conduct further clearing operations of the border areas between the two states.
The force commander however stated that in response to the recent killings around Katsina Ala Local Government Area suspected to have been masterminded by Gana, OPWS troops had raided The Akwaza camp belonging to militia Gana in Katsina Ala.
“Assault of the camp was preceded by air strike by the Mi35m which neutralised key buildings before troops moved in for mopping up. Troops searched the camp but nothing significant was recovered and later set the buildings ablaze.
“It was not clear if Gana was killed during the assault, but trail of blood seen in the buildings suspected to be where he slept suggests he might have been hit. A motorcycle usually used by Gana was also badly damaged during the air strike”, Yekini disclosed.
He stated that the troops at Daudu have been tasked to tighten up security along the Daudu- Yelwata- Kadarko axis to put an end to armed robbery and other criminal activities along the border areas between Benue and Nasarawa States.
According to him, the position of the OPWS is that IDPs can now return home except along the Gbajimba-Akor-Tomatar axis which the troops are still clearing.