The commander of the Military spike Operation codenamed Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), Major-General Adeyemi Yekini, said on Tuesday that his troops are neither overburdened nor overstretched by security challenges in the three states of his operation.
Major-General Yekini further stated that OPWS started operations in the states of Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa in July 2018, after frightening security challenges caused by the activities of bandits and armed militias in those states, adding that they were working day and night to keep all armed elements away.
He said this by reacting to a statement credited to Governor Samuel Ortom on Monday that security agencies are doing their best, but are overstretched and overwhelmed, adding that armed bandits sometimes have superior weapons.
“We are not overstretched and overwhelmed. No, we are not. Every military operation has a mandate and we believe that we have substantially fulfilled our mandate, not only in Benue but also in the states of Nasarawa and Taraba.
“We know how we met the state of Benue in particular when we got here. The security situation was then characterized by mass killings of armed herdsmen and other acts of bandits from warlords, such as Gana and Ojoundu, who destroyed parts of the state.
He said that in a short period of operation, the OPWS managed to expel all of these criminals and also reduced the activities of armed herdsmen, who have now been reduced to occasional skirmishes with troops.
The Force Commander said his troops had already recovered some 300 weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition in the three states, in addition to destroying all identified militia camps, especially in Benue.
“We made it possible for the Benue state government to reaffirm political authority over places like Katsina Ala, Gbise, Gawa and so many other rural communities in the local governments of Logo, Ukum and Kwande that until now were being controlled by some of these warlords.
“We helped a lot to preserve Benue as the country’s food basket, despite all the odds. Thanks to OPWS, Benue today is exporting loads of food trailers to other parts of the country almost daily, thereby increasing the state’s IGR. “
In addition to obtaining more OPWS achievements, Yekini said his troops eliminated hundreds of armed militiamen and arrested hundreds of others, in addition to facilitating the voluntary return of some 300,000 internally displaced people (IDPs), mainly in Benue.
“We recognize that some are still in the fields and will continue to work hard to get them back home. We brought social life back to Makurdi and other important cities in Benue, which were greatly affected by the crisis at the time.
“We kept the Makurdi – Lafia – Abuja Highway open 24 hours a day for the use of passengers, including senior government officials in Benue who travel the way to Abuja. We kept other important highways open, including the reopening of the Takum – Katsina Ala road, which links Taraba to Benue, which Gana closed for several years without being challenged. We also guarantee the reopening of the Makurdi-Naka-Ankpa road, which was abandoned by drivers for months and taken over by armed herdsmen.
“We have substantially controlled the prolonged crisis in Tiv / Jukun. We can go on and on, if necessary. We are professional soldiers. We are not saying that there are no remaining security challenges on the ground. No, but we will continue to face them head-on with other state security agencies.
“What I said above doesn’t show us overstretched and overwhelmed. No. We remain determined to fulfill our mandate until its logical conclusion. The OPWS mandate does not include the capturing of cattles on the streets”, concluded Yekini.