By Titus Atondu, Makurdi
The military operation popularly known as Operation WHIRL STROKE (OPWS), on Saturday, said, it had recovered a total of 45 assorted weapons, 1, 285 rounds of ammunition, 24 AK47 magazines and arrested 74 suspects in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states.
The OPWS has also facilitated the return of over 145, 000 Internally Displaced Person (IDPs) to their various homes in the three states since the inauguration of the operation.
The Commander of OPWS Maj. Gen. Yekini, disclosed this at a press conference held at the operational headquarters of the force, Tactical Air Command of the Nigeria Air Force Makurdi.
He stated that they conducted several operations around Zaki Biam axis to apprehend the Benue notorious gang leader, Terwase Akwaza alias Gana but had always escaped by the whiskers, adding that OPWS has decided to establish Sub-Sector in Zaki-Biam to mend the Wanted Gana who had already lost 12 of his gang members.
He explained that the search for the most wanted militia leader would continue until he is arrested and brought to justice.
According to him Gana had lost one of his wives o Queen who was killed during cross fire with troops of OPWS.
He said that in an earlier operation, troops of OPWS made contact with Gana’s men at Sai where the armed militia men allegedly loyal to Gana engaged the troops in a two hour shoot-out.
“I am optimistic that with the establishment of a sub-sector of the operation in Zaki-Biam, following Thursday, 18th October, 2018 attack on the yam rich town is bringing troops closer to arresting the wanted man, who has a bounty of N20 million on his head.
“OPWS two days ago established a new sub-sector at Zaki Biam to improve security situation on ground and spearheaded further offensive operations against Gana.
“Just yesterday, the newly deployed troops in Zaki Biam embarked on confidence building patrol of Zaki Biam metropolis to reassure the local populace of their safety,” Gen. Yekini said.
He explained further that, “Troops successfully fought through without any casualty on own troops. At the end of four simultaneous assaults, OPWS troops killed 12 militia men loyal to Gana at Sai while we recorded one case of a soldier who got missing.”
“Several arms and ammunition have been recovered by operatives of OPWS in the three states of its coverage namely Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba. General Yekini named some of them to include: Two AK47 rifles, three magazines of AK47 rifles, 37 rounds of 7.62 special ammunition, a techno handset, two locally made pistols specially fabricated to fire 7.62 mm special ammunition (same type fired by AK47 rifle), 20 cartridges, five bows and arrows, two handsets, four empty cases of 7.62mm special, some substances suspected to be charms and 15 rustled cattle. The cattle, he added have been returned to their rightful owners.
“In all, OPWS has recovered a total of 45 assorted weapons, 1, 285 rounds of ammunition, 24 AK47 magazines, while 74 suspects were arrested. In addition, over 145, 000 IDPs have returned to homes in the three states since the inception of OPWS.”
In view of the recognition that military approach alone will not solve the security situation in the affected states, General Yekini announced that OPWS has embarked on peaceful discussions with stakeholders to improve relations and peaceful coexistence.