Commander of Operation Whirl Stroke, Major General Adeyemi Yekini, said on Wednesday that troops attached to the operation have so far killed 145 bandits, arrested 223 others and also recovered 194 weapons in military operations in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states.
Yekini gave the figures when he visited Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Sule at the Lafia Government House.
Gen. Yekini added that the special forces, which was put in place since May last year to address incessant killings and other forms of banditry across the three states, recovered 3,683 ammunitions and one hand grenade.
The commander assured the Governor that the era of banditry and criminality earlier prevailing across the three states had virtually come to an end, though occasional security challenges are to be expected.
He said members of Operation Whirl Stroke are taking immediate steps to address breaches.
He traced the root cause of most of the crises in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states to agitations over control of farming and grazing spaces along the River Benue.
He explained that herdsmen use the area for grazing because of its lush vegetation and the Tiv people use it for farming.
“The Jukun people also use the area for fishing,” the Army officer said.
“The interplay of economic activities among these three different tribes along the River Benue valley is the cause of the crises we are facing across these three states,” Maj.-Gen. Yekini said.
Noting that the outfit has its bases located along the banks of River Benue, its special forces are deployed to Giza in Keana Local Government Area, Tunga in Awe Local Government Area, Ugya in Toto Local Government Area, Rukubi in Doma Local Government Area as well as Loko, both in Nasarawa State.
He said though the special forces carried out more operations in Benue State more than in Nasarawa State, they recovered more weapons and arrested more bandits than the other states.
The commander assured the governor that they were on top of the security situation in Nasarawa State, as well as Benue and Taraba states, adding that already, economic activities have picked up in areas where previously armed bandits used to carry weapons and roam freely.
Major General Yekini added that their operation was not limited to military action, but that they are also engaged in military/civilian activities in the belief that some of the lingering crises being faced across the three states cannot be solved by the military alone.
Sule hailed the special forces for the ability to trace the root cause of the lingering crisis, stressing that it was the only way to solve the problem.
The Governor noted that by taking care of everybody’s interest and giving everyone that sense of belonging, issues will definitely be resolved.
He said the security initiative, which started under the administration of Umaru Tanko Al-Makura in conjunction with the specials forces, have begun to yield results, with the relative peace being enjoyed among the Igbira and Bassa people.
He pledged to support the activities of Operation Whirl Stroke within the state.