Officers of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) have given all militia groups still present in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa up to December to vacate the states or risk forceful dislodgment.
Maj.-Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, Commander of the military operation, announced the deadline on Tuesday in Makurdi. Yekini buttressed that insurgents still hiding in remote areas, would be evicted before December, 2018.
According to him, the rains and the bad roads have stopped our advances into the hinterlands where small groups of insurgents are still hiding. He, however, assured that with the dry season fast approaching, there would be no restrictions to advances and attacks on the insurgents.
The commander said “so far, we have aided a total number of 150,000 IDPs to their homes in Benue State” and assured that the IDPs would be given suitable protection in their various villages. He said that the herdsmen guerrillas and other militia groups in the state, especially the Gana gang, must vacate the states or risk forceful eviction.
He accredited the delay in the return of some IDPs to their homes to socio-economic and security challenges and 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 explained.
He also confirmed the killing of the wife of Gana and 12 members of his gang, stating that the operation had disarmed no fewer than 100 criminal gangs in the state.