The Defence Headquarters said on Tuesday that its troops of Operation WHIRL STROKE killed two militias, suspected to be men of Benue’s most wanted criminal, the late Terwase Akwaza, aka Gana.
Defence Spokesman, John Enenche, who disclosed this in a statement, said the militia elements were killed in a joint dawn raid on Monday around Adu general area in Chanchanji council ward of Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State.
Recall that Gana was killed by the military last week when he was on his way to the Government House in Makurdi to be granted amnesty by the Benue State Government.
While the military claimed the dreaded criminal was gunned down in a shootout, Governor Samuel Ortom maintained that Gana was snatched from a government convoy by the troops and subsequently killed.
After the controversial death of Gana, his men had reportedly said their leader had instructed them to continue with criminality should anything happen to him.
Enenche said the raid on the militias’ hideout followed “actionable intelligence” on the possible remnants of late Gana’s men.
He said: “following actionable intelligence on the possible hideout of remnants of late Gana’s militia elements around Adu general area in Chanchanji council ward of Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State, Troops of Sector 2 deployed at Gbise in Katsina Ala Local Government Area of Benue State in conjunction with troops of Sector 4 conducted a joint dawn raid operation on the identified hideout at Adu.
“In the course of the operation, troops had contact with the armed militias who fired at troops as they closed in on their position. The gallant troops swiftly responded with superior fire forcing the bandits to flee the camp in disarray into the surrounding forest. In the course of the encounter, 2 armed militias were neutralized. Also, 2 locally made pistols were recovered from the bandits.”
He further disclosed that three armed militia suspects were arrested during another raid at Chanchanji.
“Thereafter, troops carried out another raid operation on another identified armed bandits hideout at Chanchanji in Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State and Sai in Katsina Ala Local Government Area of Benue State during which 3 suspects namely; Saalu Igbua Terlumun, Benjamin Valentine and Milton Gbegi were arrested at Sai while Isaac Hilega aka Bawasa and Godwin Terwase were arrested at Chanchanji. The gallant troops combed the hideouts leading to the recovery of 16 Handsets, Charms and some substances suspected to be Indian hemp.”
According to him, the suspects are currently undergoing preliminary investigations after which they would be handed over to the police for further actions.
He added that troops had dominated the area with fighting patrols to “deter armed elements and deny them freedom of movement.”
In a similar vein, Enenche said some suspected armed herdsmen harbouring in the forest boundary between Benue and Nasarawa states had escaped with gunshot wounds during an engagement with troops of Sector 1, operation whirl stroke, on Monday.
He added that their camp was subsequently destroyed.