A joint security network involving soldiers of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) have arrested a wanted criminal kingpin and kidnapper, Kefas Aondofa, popularly known as ‘Azonto’ in Ukum axis of Benue State.
Azonto is believed to have taken over leadership of the late outlaw Terwase Akwaza referred to as ‘Gana’ after his extermination by the military in September last year while he was on his way from Kastina-Ala to Makurdi to receive a second amnesty.
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A military source who declined name on print confirmed to journalists in Makurdi yesterday that the kingpin was arrested on Thursday at the border between Benue and Taraba states.
“Azonto was arrested following joint operations around Ukum Local Government Area of Benue State on Thursday.
“Actually, the arrest was made in Taraba State. He has been on our watch list; he has been terrorising communities around Ukum area.
“With the endless efforts of our troops and DSS in joint operations; we recorded another success in the fight against banditry and criminality.
“With the intelligence-gathering shared among security agencies in the north-central, the militia leader had been arrested in his hideout and is in the custody of DSS,” the source said.
Our correspondent recalled that the Benue State Government had earlier in June, demolished two buildings allegedly belonging to Azonto at separate locations in Makurdi metropolis of the state after two suspects who earlier led the police to the property that was demolished confessed to be working with the gang leader, Azonto, who had been declared wanted by the police in Benue.
One of the arrested suspects was the first wife of Azonto while the other, whose name was given as Steven Tor-Ikyo, a gun runner, was arrested with millions of naira meant to help facilitate the purchase of arms and ammunition for the syndicate.