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Ops Whirl Stroke, Military intervention to flush out militants in Benue, 2 other states, set to wind down

The Defense Headquarters (DHQ), on Friday 20 December disclosed that Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), had achieved its set mandate and would wind down in phases.

The Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, disclosed this in Gbise, Katsina-Ala Local Government Area, during a media tour of crisis-hit areas in Benue and Taraba.

Newsmen reports that OPWS, which was launched on May 2018, with a mandate to end the herders/farmers crisis, covers Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states.

Troops were also tasked to flush out all armed militia gangs terrorising parts of Benue and Taraba.

Brig Gen Nwachukwu explained that the DHQ was not planning to immediately shot down the operation even though OPWS had achieved its set mandate.

He said that the proposed winding-up would be in phases.

The Defence spokesman explained that the task force had, during the operations, carried out both kinetics and non- kinetic approaches so as to restore peace in the three states.

“It is not an out right shutdown of the operation, so it is not as if we are going to pack our bags and vacate the operational arena. That is not going to happen. So, we don’t want anybody in Benue and Taraba States to panic unnecessarily.

“What is actually going to happen is that we have a mission and our mission fundamentally is to restore peace in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa States and, to a very large extent, that mission has been achieved.

“There is going to be a draw down but not immediately. It will be in phases. As we wind down the operation, we have some benchmarks that have been put in place to ensure that there is no resurgence of this criminality,” he explained.

He said that the task force had also liberated Gbise community, which was hitherto under the control of some criminal gangs, with community members paying royalties.

The Force Commander, OPWS, Maj. Gen. Adeyemi

The Force Commanderl who also on Friday urged the residents of Benue and Taraba states not to panic but to go about their legitimate businesses without fear of molestation, as their safety and security is guaranteed.

According to him “the peace and tranquility presently enjoyed in the states, which were previously ravaged by ethno-religious conflicts, herders/farmers clashes, banditry, kidnapping, cultism and tribal militias will be sustained.

Maj Gen Yekini gave this reassurance while conducting journalists round the security deployments in Benue and Taraba states. His reassurance became expedient to douse the fear expressed in some quarters in the 3 states of likely influx of herdsmen migrating southward and their attendant violence when seeking greener pastures in the dry season.

Maj Gen Yekini maintained that restoration of peace and normalcy in the troubled North Central states was the mandate of the operation and has been achieved to a large extent.

He was elated to note that the wanton killings orchestrated by herdsmen/farmers clashes have been brought under firm control. Additionally, the communities that were hitherto under siege have been liberated from the claws of armed bandits and local militias.

The Force Commander further revealed that non-Kinetic approach was equally employed in solving the lingering inter-communal clashes between Jukun and Tiv communities inhabiting the border areas of Taraba and Benue states.

He noted that most crises were fueled by local militias, some of whom have been arrested, while others are now on the run. He averred that the indigenes, who are now savouring harmonious and peaceful co-existence have since endorsed a peace agreement to shun violence and live in harmony.

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