Thursday, 19 April 2018

DHQ: We Lost 13 Soldiers, Arrested 162 Herdsmen In Benue, Taraba

The Defence Headquarters, Abuja, said on Wednesday that the military had arrested 147 herdsmen in Benue State and 15 in Taraba in the ongoing Exercise Ayem Akpatuma, noting that the suspects had been handed over to the police for prosecution.

The military said the troops recovered 38 machetes, five AK-47 rifles, 23 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, 18 motorcycles, 19 locally made guns, five locally made pistols among other weapons from the arrested herdsmen and bandits.

The Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. John Agim, who spoke at a press briefing in the DHQ, said 13 soldiers were killed during the exercise, while seven soldiers were injured in action, noting that “we also had our equipment destroyed during the operation.”

Agim said, “Exercise Ayem Akpatuma was conducted from February 15 to April 5 simultaneously in Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Taraba and Kaduna states. The duration of the exercise in Taraba State has been extended to May 14 due to the prevailing security threats in the state. During this period, a total of 183 criminals were arrested in the exercise in Benue and Taraba states.

“In Benue, 147 herdsmen, six cult members, five cattle rustlers and six bandits were arrested while 15 were arrested in Taraba State. All the suspects have been handed over to the Nigeria Police Force for further action. During the exercise, we lost 13 soldiers while seven were wounded in action.  We also had our equipment destroyed during the operation.”

When asked if the police had begun prosecuting the arrested herdsmen, Agim said, “We cannot say the police cannot do their work. The military cannot prosecute anybody and in every internal security operation, we do it in tandem with the police and other security agencies. The police take the suspects to court and they are given the maximum sentence. We don’t have any doubt about that.”

Agim said the military appealed to political leaders not to play politics with the security situation in Benue and Taraba states, insisting that the Chairman of the Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State, Mr. Shiba Tikari, failed to cooperate with the troops in the ongoing exercise.

“Regrettably, during the conduct of the exercise, some civil authorities especially in Taraba State did not accord the military the desired cooperation. For instance, the Chairman of Takum LGA did not cooperate with 93 Battalion but instead portrayed the military in a bad light to the locals. The DHQ hereby appeals to our political leaders not to play politics with security issues and the armed forces.”

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army said on Wednesday that it had invited the Takum LGA Chair, Tikari, over the killings and declared five suspects wanted.

The army’s spokesman, Brig. Gen. Texas Chukwu, said the wanted suspects are; Tanko Dantayi, Kurusi Danladi, Chindo, Big Olumba and Chairman Poko.

Chukwu said the Director of the Military Intelligence would be interviewing the Takum LGA chairman on Friday.

He said, “In line with the ongoing exercise in Taraba, five suspects are hereby declared wanted for their alleged roles in the killings in Takum and Taraba State in general. The Director of Military Intelligence has also invited the Chairman of the Takum LGA, Shiba Tikari, to report for his interview on Friday, April 20.

“The interview is in connection with security concerns where three suspects were arrested in Takum. The suspects are currently being investigated by the DMI.”

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