The Defence Headquarters has denied allegation by the Nasarawa State branch of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) that its Special Forces of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) had killed herdsmen and hundreds of cows in the state.
The Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. John Agim, made the denial on Tuesday while briefing Journalists at the Tactical Command Headquarters, Makurdi OPWS operational headquarters.
The MACBAN had accused Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) of extra judicial killing of herdsmen and hundreds of cattle in the state.
Agim said that during OPWS’s cordon-and-search operation in Barkin Kato village in Keana Local Government Area of the state, criminals reorganised and killed two and injured five of military personnel.
“I wish to make it abundantly clear that the Special Forces troops of OPWS did not kill herdsmen or cows as claimed by the Chairman of MACBAN in Lafia. The information is completely false and unfounded.
“The truth of the matter is that on June 26 at about 6:a.m., 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.
“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 incident, some troops of OPWS were mobilised for reinforcement. In the exchange of fire that ensued some of the militia must have sustained some casualties as we were able to extricate our men that were injured.
“In the course of fighting, OPWS troops recovered 1 X AK 47 rifle with magazine; 2 X locally made guns; 1 X pistol; 1 X axe and 800 rounds of 7.62mm special. This was the criminal group that our troops were able to destroy their camp.
He said that the “Military was not in a hurry to link MACBAN to this militia as investigation had 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,” Agim said.
He disclosed that OPWS had in two months arrested 46 suspects in Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa states, adding that several weapons and ammunition were recovered from them.
“So far, OPWS troops have arrested 21 suspects and recovered 20 weapons and 882 rounds of assorted ammunition in Nasarawa State since the inception of the operation.
“Similarly, the force has recovered 3 weapons; 9 rounds of ammunition and arrested 12 suspects in Taraba.
“In addition, we have recovered 4 weapons and 169 rounds of ammunition as well as arrested 13 suspects in Benue since our operation began,” the acting director said.