Barely two weeks after troops of the ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’ (OPWS) revealed it has so far killed 145 bandits in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states, they have now arrested 10 suspects for armed banditry and kidnapping in Benue and Nasarawa States, Concise News reports.
The suspects were paraded before newsmen at the OPWS headquarters in Makurdi yesterday, by Force Commander of OPWS, Maj. Gen. Adeyemi Yekini.
The commander stated that five suspects were arrested in Toto and Awe Local Government areas of Nasarawa State while five others were arrested in Benue State.
According to Yekini one of the suspects was shot dead during an exchange of fire with troops at Zaki-Biam in Ukum local government area of Benue State while an AK-47 rifle was recovered from him.
He revealed that three out of the four other suspects arrested in Zaki Biam were linked with the wanted militia leader, Terwase Akwaza alias ‘Gana’ while another suspect was nabbed in Tomata area of the state with a locally made rifle fabricated to fire 5.56mm ammunition which is standard ammunition for assault rifles.
He explained that this made the pistol to be as deadly as any standard assault rifle.
The Force Commander, one suspect that was arrested in Awe local government area of Nasarawa State was handed over to the Nasarawa State police CID because he was linked to another kidnapping in the state.
Several dangerous weapons were recovered from the suspects
Among the weapons are two locally fabricated pistols, a self-loading rifle (SLR), five locally-made rifles, one AK-47 rifle, some quantities of ammunition and three phones with a Toyota Corolla car popularly known as ‘duck nyash’ which is very popular with kidnappers in this part of the country.
Corroborating Yekini’s explanation, Sector Commander of Sector Three in Nasarawa State, Naval Lieutenant Emmanuel Igwe and his Ukum counterpart, Naval Lt. Lawal Abubakar said they carried out the operations following the directive by the Force Commander to deal decisively with armed bandits and kidnappers in their respective areas of operation.
Igwe particularly noted that the suspects were arrested after some kidnap suspects who were apprehended in Kogi State were brought to Nasarawa State by security agencies identified them as members of their gang.
On his part, Lt. Abubakar disclosed that weapons were recovered from the suspect that was killed during the exchange of fire while the other suspects linked to the kidnapping and armed banditry within the sector were also nabbed.
One of the suspects who spoke with newsmen confessed that he served as an informant to a kidnap kingpin who is now at large adding that he had given information which had led to the kidnap of a victim in Gwagwalada.
“After I gave the Fulani man the information and the victim was kidnapped and ransom paid, he gave me the sum of N30,000. The Fulani man told me that the victim was later released after a ransom of N320,000.”