The Nigerian Army has disagreed with Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State on the morale of its operatives deployed in the Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS).
The Force Commander of the Military Operation codenamed Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), Maj. Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, on Tuesday, said that his troops are neither overwhelmed nor overstretched by the security challenges in the three states of their operation.
Naija News reports that Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) operates in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa States with a mandate to counter the security challenges in the area posed by activities of armed herdsmen and other forms of militia and security challenges.
However, Governor Ortom had suggested on Monday that the security agencies are doing their best but are overstretched and overwhelmed, adding that the armed herdsmen sometimes have superior weapons.
But in a swift reaction to the governor’s statement. Major General Yekini stated that the OPWS which started operation in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa States in July 2018 is working endlessly to overcome security challenges in the area.
He also denied claims that his men were overwhelmed or overstretched.
“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 characterized by mass killings by armed herdsmen and other acts brigandage by warlords such as Gana and Ojoundu who carved out parts of the state for themselves.
He recounted the victories won by the troops against criminals in the area, adding that they have enabled normal political and business activities to thrive in the area.
“We made it possible for the Benue State Government to reassert political authority over places like Katsina Ala, Gbise, 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 that the operatives have recovered several guns and ammunition from the militia previously disturbing the area and arrested many of the bandits as well, bringing peace to previously disturbed areas.
He added that he and his men remain committed to seeing out their mandate in the area regardless of any and many challenges they face.
“We acknowledge that some are still in camps and we will continue to work hard to get them back home. We brought back social life to Makurdi and other key towns in Benue State which were badly affected by the crisis at the time.
“We kept the Makurdi – Lafia – Abuja Highway open on 24hrs basis for use of commuters including high government officials in Benue State who ply the road to Abuja. We kept open other key highways including the reopening of the Takum – Katsina Ala road linking Taraba with Benue, which Gana closed for several years unchallenged. We also ensured the reopening of the Makurdi-Naka-Ankpa road which was deserted by motorists for months and taken over by armed herdsmen.
“We substantially brought the lingering Tiv/Jukun crisis under control. We can go on and on if need be. We are professional soldiers. We are not saying that there are no lingering security challenges on ground. No, but we will continue to tackle them headlong in conjunction with other security agencies in the state.
“What I said above does not portray us as overstretched and overwhelmed. No. We remain resolute in pursuing our mandate to its logical conclusion. OPWS’ mandate does not include catching cattle on the streets,” Yekini stated.