By Peter Duru
Makurdi—Personnel of military spike operation in Benue State, code named Operation Whirl Stroke, OPWS, have uncovered an illegal arms manufacturing factory in Logo Local Government Area of the state, arrested two suspects and recovered different calibre of fire arms.
Among the suspects was a telecommunications engineer, who claimed he trained in arms manufacturing in Mauritania five years ago.
Also recovered from the gang were arms manufacturing tools and firearms at various stages of fabrication.
Parading the suspects, yesterday, at OPWS Base in Makurdi, Commander of the operation, Major-General Adeyemi Yekini, said his troops tracked the gang after a tip-off and four weeks of surveillance.
According to Yekini, “about five weeks ago, the headquarters of OPWS got information from our local sources about activities of some weapon manufacturers operating between Ayiin in Logo and Ukum local government areas of the state.
‘After due diligence by the intelligence unit, within four weeks of surveillance, we were able to track the culprits to their location and had them arrested. We are still on the trail of members of the gang who are currently at large, but no matter how they run we will get them.”
Corroborating Yekini, Sector 2 Commander of OPWS in charge of Logo and Ukum local government areas, who led troops to arrest the gang members, Captain Samuel Okenarhe, said but for the quick intervention of the troops, one of the suspects could have been lynched by an angry mob in the community.
According to him, “we rescued him and he later took us to Tinenune village in Ukum Local Government Area where the two factories were located. His other accomplice initially ran away but he was later apprehended.”
AK-47 goes for N350,000, pistol for N50,000
Confessing to the alleged crime, Cephas Ati, who was arrested alongside Mnsuga Terhila, claimed he was arrested with two AK-47 rifles, explaining that he started the business two years ago when he came back to Nigeria from Mauritania after he mysteriously lost all he had to witchcraft.
Ati said: “l have been in the business for about two years now. I lived in Europe and started this arms business when I returned from Europe two years ago but I lost everything to witchcraft and I had to start all over again.
“I had my training in Mauritania. Each of the AK-47 goes for N350,000 while pistols go for N50,000 depending on the quality. In the two years I have supplied a total of 16 AK-47 rifles to different clients.”
The suspect claimed he did not own any of the workshops “but I know a manufacturer, his name is Tavershima Vande.”
We condemn gun-trading in Benue—Ethnic leaders
Reacting, Chairman of Benue ethnic leaders, on the auspices of Mdzough U Tiv, Omi Ny’ Igede and Ochetoha K’ Idoma, Chief Edward Ujege, said they outrightly condemned any act of arms trading and manufacturing in the state.
“All we are seeking is peace in Benue State and we may not enjoy that peace if people are dealing in arms in our state. Therefore, we condemn any of such acts in our state,” Ujege said.
Unauthorised arms bearers must face justice—State govt
Also reacting on behalf of the state government, Chief Press Secretary, CPS, to the governor, Mr. Terver Akase, urged that justice takes its course in the matter.
Akase said; “Governor Ortom through his amnesty programme had insisted that Benue State should be rid of arms of any kind. Therefore, people who are not authorised by law to carry arms have no reasons whatsoever to own arms at all.
“So the government has been pushing this narrative and if anyone is caught with arms, the law should take its course because this government abhors gun-running by any individual as far as that person has no backing of the law.
“So whoever is involved, the law should take its course and we urge security agencies to do proper investigation in the matter and let justice be served.”