George Okoh In Makurdi
Ten suspected criminals who specialise in kidnapping, cattle rustling and illegal arms manufacturing have been apprehended by men of the joint security outfit known as Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS).
Parading the suspects at the OPWS Headquarters in Makurdi, the Benue State capital on Wednesday, Force Commander of OPWS, Maj. Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, said six of the suspected criminals were arrested in Nasarawa State while four others were arrested in Benue State.
“Three weeks ago, we had a briefing during which eight suspects were paraded. This afternoon, ten new suspects are being paraded for armed banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling in Benue and Nasarawa States,” he said.
Those allegedly paraded included: one Seidu Muhammadu, a kidnap kingpin and cattle rustler along with two of his accomplices. Also, one Moses Dzever, a gang member of the wanted militia leader, Terwase Akwaza, alias ‘Gana’, with one other member responsible for Gana’s logistics who was also nabbed.
An arms manufacturer, Shekwa Terna, who was also paraded confessed to the crime, saying he went into arms manufacturing business about five years ago after learning the trade from his elder brother.
“I learnt the work from my elder brother who had earlier been apprehended. After his arrest, I took over the business. I was sleeping in my house when the OPWS came and arrested me. I sell the rifles to people in my community while the pistols I sell to a client from Onitsha.
“Sometimes when my client from Onitsha comes around, he buys up to 15 weapons at once. So far, I have sold over 50 weapons since I started. But I now regret my action and wished I never went into this business in the first place,” Terna stated.
One of the kidnapped victims (names withheld), who was rescued from Seidu and his gang, told newsmen how he was abducted from his house at Lapai in Niger State and kept in the forest for one week before he regained his freedom.
“Seidu and his gang came to abduct my elder brother in my house but he was not around. When I came out and I told them that I was his younger brother, so they decided to take me away to the forest from where I couldn’t find my way out.”
“They then asked me for a ransom of N2.5 million. One week after I had been with them, they were taking me somewhere in town when they saw a vehicle coming and they suspected they were security forces coming so they took cover. It was at that point that I was able to escape.
“I was with the kidnappers for one week before I was able to find my way out of their den. That was during the last dry season. And when I regained my freedom, I relocated to Toto in Nasarawa State and was surprised to see Seidu and his gang in Toto too where they had also relocated,” he said,
Yekini explained that the operation is currently engaged in breaking the supply chain of weapon proliferation in the country.
He described the increasing spate of arms manufacturing in the country as alarming, which in his opinion was fueling criminal activities in the country.
“The level of weapons proliferation across the country is alarming and we are doing our best to tackle it by targeting weapon manufacturers as a way of breaking the supply chain with a view to reducing the amount of weapons in circulation and curtailing the spate of armed banditry and other criminal activities in the country,” he added.