Force Commander of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), Major General Adeyemi Yekini, on Tuesday, said that his troops have not been overwhelmed neither overstretched by the security challenges in Benue State or the other two states of Taraba and Nasarawa under its theatre operation.
Yekini made the remark in reaction to a statement credited to Governor Samuel Ortom who in an interview with newsmen in Makurdi on Monday opined that the OPWS was doing its best to curtail security challenges in the state but are overstretched and overwhelmed.
The governor had also alleged that invading armed herders who are currently besieging some rural areas of the state sometimes possess superior weapons.
But, the Force Commander noted that his troop had been working round the clock to keep all armed elements away from the three states, adding that the OPWS had lived up to expectation since it started operation in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa State in July 2018 following daunting security challenges occasioned by the activities of armed herders and armed militias in the States.
“We are not overstretched or overwhelmed. No, we are not. Every military operation has a mandate and we believe we have substantially fulfilled our mandate not just in Benue but also in Nasarawa and Taraba States.
“We know how we met Benue State in particular when we got here. The security situation then was characterised by mass killings by armed herdsmen and other acts of brigandage by war lords such as Gana and Ojoundu who carved out parts of the state for themselves,” he said.
Yekini stressed that within a short period of operation, the OPWS succeeded in flushing out all criminals and also curtailed the activities of armed herdsmen which has now been reduced to occasional skirmishes with troops.
He added that his troops had so far recovered close to 300 assorted weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition in the three states as well as destroyed all identified militia camps especially in Benue.
“We made it possible for the Benue State Government to reassert political authority over places like Katsina Ala, Gbishe, Gawa and so many other rural communities in Logo, Ukum and Kwande Local Governments which were hitherto being controlled by some of these war lords.
“We assisted greatly in preserving Benue as the food basket of the nation in spite of all odds. Thanks to OPWS, Benue today is exporting trailer loads of foodstuff to other parts of the country almost on daily basis thereby boosting the state’s IGR,” he added.
The Force commander maintained that his troops eliminated hundreds of armed militia men and apprehended hundreds of others as well as facilitated the voluntary return of close to 300,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) mostly in Benue.