By Peter Duru, Makurdi
The troops of joint military operation codenamed, Operation Whirl Stroke, OPWS, Saturday, arrested the district head of Cha (Mue Ter Cha) Chief Utambe Adzer in Ukum Local Government Area of Benue state, after they reportedly discovered arms and ammunition his palace.
It was gathered that the troops also discovered other weapons at the palace of the district head of Lumbuv, Chief Teran Kwaghbo in the same axis and attempted to arrest him but he evaded arrest.
A source from the area who spoke on the condition of anonymity told our correspondent that OPWS troops acted on credible information to uncover the weapons in the palaces of the two chiefs.
“It was at about 10:30pm on Friday when we saw some soldiers moving towards the palace of Mue Ter Cha. Then the next moment, we saw that the military have arrested the Chief. We also saw them bringing out some arms which we heard were discovered in his house.
“They equally razed down the round hut located in the palace said to be where the weapons were kept.
“Just this morning (Saturday), the military troops were still seen in Lumbuv District where they also attempted to arrest the District Head whom they (Soldiers) believed harboured illegal arms. However, information got to the chief and he escaped the arrest.
“As I talk to you, nobody knows where the army took the traditional rulers to,” he said.
A security source told Journalists that one Ak47 assault rifle, one magazine , 20 round of 7.62mm ammunitions, one locally made mortar tube and one vehicle were recovered from chief Adzer.
Meanwhile another source in Ukum who craved anonymity insisted that the weapons found in the homes of the traditional rulers may have been acquired for the purpose of security and protection of their families and immediate neigbourhood given the level of insecurity in the area.
According to the source, “the weapons they claimed were found in the homes of the Chiefs may have been acquired for self protection. We all know about the level of insecurity in Sankera axis and how the Chiefs and their subjects in that axis are being killed by bandits and armed loyalists of the late militia leader, Terwase Akwaza alias ‘Gana’
“So the Chiefs probably keep the arms to protect themselves, their families and immediate neighborhood from attacks from the militia gangs. So they should not be demonized in the media until proven otherwise,” he said.
Vanguard recalls that the armed bandits suspected to be loyalists of the late ‘Gana’ have been terrorising the Sankera axis of the state comprising Ukum, Logo and Katsina-Ala LGAs, killing unsuspecting members of the public.
When contacted, Force Commander of OPWS, Brigadier General Clement Apere declined to comment, saying he could not speak on an ongoing operations. He however directed newsmen to the Information Unit of the Defence Headquarters Abuja.