From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Troops of the joint security spike operation codenamed Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) have neutralized three bandits in Chito, situated near Zaki-Biam, headquarters of Ukum Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue state.
Sources from the area told newsmen that the bandits, under the leadership of ‘Full Fire’, the second in command to the slain Benue’s militia warlord, Terwase Akwaza alias ‘Gana’ are chief among bandits that have been terrorising the Sankera axis.
Troops were also said to have recovered an undisclosed number of weapons, two motorcycles and three mobile phones during the clearance operation which they carried out in the area.
All efforts to get the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of OPWS, Flying Officer, Audu Katty to confirm the report failed as he was not responding to calls at the time of filing this report, but it was gathered that the troops, under the command of the Force Commander, Major General Kevin Aligbe also flushed out a number of herdsmen that have been terrorising Gbishe in Katsina-Ala LGA and its environs.
One of our sources who gave his name as Terhile Zayol disclosed to newsmen by telephone that even though OPWS were able to neutralize three of the bandits, Full Fire who is currently one of Gana’s henchmen escaped by the whiskers.
“At about 10pm on that fateful day, following credible intelligence from some people on the robbery activities of a notorious bandit, by name Full Fire and his members at Chito in Zaki-Biam, troops of OPWS deployed in Zaki-Biam, Ukum LGA conducted a clearance patrol at Chito general area.
“On sighting the OPWS troops, the bandits fled but the troops engaged them in a hot pursuit and were able to neutralize three of the bandits.
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“The troops also combed and searched the area and recovered some items including fire arms, two motorcycle and three mobile phones.
“The troops deployed at Gbise in Katsina-Ala also carried out offensive fighting patrol at Atunbe, Madamu, Kaamen, Ude -Jor, Kasar, Tor – Tacha and River Yoyo in Utange and Yoyo council wards of Katsina-Ala LGA. The purpose of the patrol was to flush out armed herdsmen terrorizing the area.”
He said during the patrol, OPWS troops made contact with the herdsmen at Tor – Tacha and during an exchange of fire, the troops responded with superior fire power which forced the herdsmen to flee in disarray with possible gunshot wound.
“We further learnt that the troops conducted a search around the area and recovered fire arms and cutlasses,” our source said.
However, a top ranking officer in the military outfits who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the matter, vowed that the troops would continue to go after any person or group of persons destroying innocent lives and property while working tirelessly to ensure that peace is returned to various communities across the Joint Operations Area.
“Troops of OPWS have continued to demonstrate professionalism, resilience and courage in conduct of their duties,” the military source said.