The special military outfit code-named ‘Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS)’ set up by the Defence headquarters to clear out killer herdsmen and militia groups perpetrating killings in Nasarawa, Benue and Taraba states has been given the groups, December 2018 ultimatum to move out or risk forceful eviction.
Major General Adeyemi Yekini, Commander of the operation, gave the deadline while speaking to newsmen on Tuesday in Makurdi.
The Commander said killer herdsmen and militia who are 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.
“So far, we have facilitated a total number of 150, 000 IDPs to their homes in Benue State”, he said.
Warning that the groups in the states, especially the Ghana gang, must vacate the states or risk forceful eviction, he said the delay in the return of some IDPs to their homes was not only due to security but also socio-economic challenges.
Consequently he 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 said.
The Commander confirmed the killing of the wife of Ghana and 12 members of his gang and separate operations noting that the military outfit had neutralized more than 100 criminal elements in the states that form its AOR.