Authorities of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) have given all militia groups terrorizing residents of Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa up to December to vacate the states or risk forceful eviction.
The military operation is responsible for maintaining peace and order in the three states currently facing threats of insurgency. Commander of the military operation, Maj.-Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, announced the deadline while speaking to newsmen on Tuesday in Makurdi. Yekini said that insurgents still hiding in areas currently inaccessible in the three states due to rough terrain, would be flushed out before December.
According to him, the rains and the bad roads have halted our advances into the hinterlands where pockets of the insurgents are still hiding. He, however, assured that with the dry season fast approaching, there would be no limits to advances and attacks on the insurgents.
The commander said “so far, we have facilitated a total number of 150, 000 IDPs to their homes in Benue State” and assured that the IDPs would be given adequate protection in their various villages. He said that the herdsmen militia and other militia groups in the state, especially the Gana gang, must vacate the states or risk forceful eviction.
He attributed the delay in the return of some IDPs to their homes to security and socio-economic challenges and appealed to the various state governments to support efforts to resettle the displaced. “It’s not because of security challenges alone that IDPs are not returning home, people are there as economic IDPs because the resources to actually go back on their own without some form of assistance is not available for them.
“So, I think that the state government should be looking at the model that was adopted by Nasarawa state whereby when the people were going back home, the government intervened and provided some seedlings.
“The government also gave them building materials, and even cash, to enable them go back home. “Even those who have returned home, many of them still return to the camps to eat in the day time.
“They’re not permanently in the camp; many of them are just there because of lack of resources for them to return to their homes and not because of security,” Yekini explained. He also confirmed the killing of the wife of Gana and 12 members of his gang, adding that the operation had neutralized no fewer than 100 criminal elements in the state.