… Death tolls rises to five

From Scholastica Hir, Makurdi

The Force Commander of Operation Whirl Stroke, (OPWS), Major General Sunday Igbinomwanhia has explained how his troop averted sacking of Benue community at a huge cost.

Recall that last Thursday, January 18, 2024, herdsmen militia attacked Okokolo community in Agatu Local Government Area, (LGA), of Benue state, killing the soldiers and two other villagers.

It was said that the attack spread fear among the communities forcing the people to begin to desert the area in droves.

In a statement made available to newsmen in Makurdi, OPWS Commander, Major General Igbinomwanhia explained that the troops were able to repel the attacks but their efforts was at the cost of his men.

According to him, besides two soldiers who were killed, one Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps personnel was also killed while two other soldiers were wounded.

He noted that “On 18 January 2024, troops of Operation Whirl Stroke deployed at Akwu in Agatu LGA of Benue State were alarmed with the presence of people fleeing from Okokolo Community in the same LGA.

“On inquiry, the troops were informed that terrorists suspected to be armed herdsmen were advancing towards the town to attack it. The troops immediately mobilised and proceeded to the community which is about 15 km from their base.

“On arrival, the troops encountered the bandits carrying out attack on the the community and subsequently engaged the criminals in a gun duel that lasted for three hours.”

Related News

The commander said the attack was successfully repelled with the terrorists withdrawing in disarray while evacuating their dead and wounded.

He however stated that “The success achieved was however at a huge cost with three of the troops paying the supreme sacrifice to prevent the killing of the inhabitants of Okokolo and the intended sacking of the community.

“In addition to the death of the two soldiers and one Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps personnel, two other soldiers were wounded and immediately evacuated to the Nigerian Air Force hospital in Makurdi,” he said.

In a swift reaction to the gallantry exhibited by the troops of OPWS, Benue state Governor, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia and the Force Commander OPWS visited the troops on 19 January 2024.

Alia who was represented by his Deputy, Barr Sam Ode and the team were received by the Chairman Agatu LGA, Hon Yakubu Ochepo and the traditional rulers of the communities in the LGA.

During the visit, Alia, who commiserated with the troops of Sector 5 OPWS and the entire OPWS troops promised to assist in the treatment of the wounded just as he assured the Joint Task Force of the continued support of the State Government.

The Force Commander of OPWS also commended the troops and encouraged them to put the set back of the loss of their colleagues behind and remain focused on the mission of ridding the Joint Operations Area of the Force of all criminality.

He also used the opportunity to intimate the troops of the support of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in the conduct of their operations.

He also informed of the speedy recovery of the wounded soldiers taken to the hospital and assured the Governor of the commitment of the Force to continue to carry out the mandate and mission of the Force as aptly directed by the CDS for the security of life and properties in the Force Joint Operations Area.

He noted that further operations are already on to track the assailants to their hideout.