By Peter Duru
Makurdi—Acting Director Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. John Agim, has stated that the military will arrest the leadership of Miyetti Allah and their sponsors if ongoing investigations by the military established that they had a hand in the bloodbath in Benue State.
Agim, who made this known, yesterday, in Makurdi, was reacting to allegation by the leadership of Miyetti Allah that its members and cows were killed by the military in Nasarawa State.
He said the military had commenced investigations into the complicity of the group in last week’s killing of two soldiers and injuring of five others attached to Operation Whirl Stroke, OPWS, a military spike operation, to end herdsmen incursions and armed banditry in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states.
Agim said: “I want you to understand that in our operations in other states, especially in the far north, we discovered that in such areas, Miyetti Allah had been suffering issues of cattle rustling. We arrested rustlers with their cows and we returned same in hundreds to them.
“We are even shocked that Miyetti Allah, that is supposed to be a lawful association, is claiming that their members were killed. That is why we said that investigation is ongoing and if it is discovered that Miyetti Allah or any group is involved, they will not go scot-free.
“A lot of people have been posing the question to us on why we have not arrested them (Miyetti Allah). If you listen to them complain, you will know that they also have issues.
“But the issue is that no one, no matter whatever wrong he feels he had been subjected, the law of the land does not allow you to take up arms against other people, and that is what we stand for.
Denies killing 6 herders, 150 cattle
“So on the allegation by the chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN, Mohammed Hussein, that OPWS killed six herdsmen and 150 cows, I wish to make it clear that the Special Forces troops of OPWS did not kill herdsmen or cows as claimed by the MACBAN chairman in Lafia. It is completely false and unfounded.
“The truth of the matter is that on June 26, 2018, at about 6 am, some troops of OPWS carried out a cordon and search operation at a suspected herdsmen militia camp at Barkin Kota village in Keana Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.
Confirms killing of 2, injuring of 5 military personnel
“After the initial success of the operation, the militia elements reorganised and attacked our team, killing two soldiers and injuring five personnel, including the Officer Commanding, who led the operation.
“Following this incidence, some troops of OPWS were mobilised for reinforcement. In the fire fight that ensued, some of the militia must have sustained some casualties as we were able to extricate our men that were injured.
Arrests 46 suspects, recovers 27 weapons,1,060 ammunition
“In the course of the fighting, OPWS troops recovered one AK-47rifle fitted with magazine, two locally made guns, one pistol, one axe and 800 rounds of 7.62mm special. This was the criminal group that our troops were able to destroy their camp.
“So, for the chairman of Nasarawa State chapter of MACBAN to identify and associate them as members of his association begs for questions and answers.
“While the military is not in a hurry to link MACBAN to this militia, investigation has begun to unravel those behind the death of our men. The military is ready to take down those who are responsible alongside their sponsors, no matter how highly placed.”