George Okoh in Makurdi
The Force Commander of the military special operation in Benue State, Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), Major General Adeyemi Yekini, has disclosed that troops have been deployed in Agatu to ensure peace and prevent a resurgence of violence in the area.
A few weeks ago, a communal clash between two Agatu communities claimed the lives of no fewer than 35 people in Okokolo community in a Sunday morning attack allegedly carried out by youths of Abugbe community.
Reacting to the attack, Yekini, who described the killing as shameful, said the OPWS immediately set machinery in motion in collaboration with the state government to ensure a peaceful resolution of the matter.
“So far, we have initiated a peaceful dialogue through the state government on the need to eschew violence in Agatu. We have also organised a deployment of OPWS force in Agatu to ensure peaceful relations and prevent resurgence of violence and ensure that the fish pond in contention is now open to both communities for use.
“It is shameful that two neighbouring communities would be killing each other the way they did. As a force, we are determined to ensure that such doesn’t happen again. I hereby warn armed groups from any of the communities to lay down their arms immediately,” he said.
The OPWS boss posited that any group who fails to lay down its arms as advised would be traced, apprehended and made to face the wrath of the law or be neutralised.
He said the OPWS would continue to apply its non-kinetic operation in resolving issues in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa States to ensure peaceful coexistence among communities and various ethnic groups in the aforementioned states.
Yekini explained that after the meeting between the Tiv and Jukun at Kente a few weeks back, the OPWS followed it up with a deployment of troops in the area which has largely reduced the incessant attacks in the area.
“In fact, the road between Gbeji in Benue through Kente, Vaase up to Wukari has now been reopened with OPWS troops constantly patrolling the general area and that has helped to reduce attacks in that area.
“However, we are still having occasional problems around Joorta and Rafinkada but we are planning to send a force to Joorta. We will work with 93 Battalion on how to improve security around Rafinkada. We did it in Agatu and Kente and it has worked. We will do same in Joorta and at Rafinkada in collaboration with 93 Battalion,” Yekini said.