Force Commander Operation Whirl Stroke, OPWS, Major General Sunday Igbinomwanhia has assured the people of Benue State of security of lives and property.
Igbinomwanhia in a statement Saturday, said despite the loss of some troops in a gun duel with bandits in Agatu local government Area the force is combat ready to flush criminals out of the state.
He explained that troops were able to repel attacks on Okokolo Community of Agatu local government area, but lost three of its men, two soldiers and one Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps personnel, noting that two other soldiers who got wounded are receiving treatment at the Nigerian Air Force hospital in Makurdi.
He commended the Benue State governor’s prompt reaction by visiting the site of the incident as well as the caretaker chairman of the Agatu local government area and traditional rulers for their cooperation.
The force commander also commended the troops and encouraged them to put the set back of the loss of their colleagues behind and to remain focused on the mission of ridding the Joint Operations Area of the Force of all criminality, adding that further operations are already on to track the assailants to their hideout.
Commanders full statement
TROOPS OF OPERATION WHIRL STROKE AVERTED THE SACKING OF A COMMUNITY AT A HUGE COST
On 18 January 2024, troops of Operation Whirl Stroke deployed at Akwu in Agatu LGA of Benue State were alarmed with the presence of people fleeing from Okokolo Community in the same LGA.
On inquiry, the troops were informed that terrorists suspected to be armed herdsmen were advancing towards the town to attack it. The troops immediately mobilised and proceeded to the community which is about 15 km from their base.
On arrival, the troops encountered the bandits carrying out attack on the the community and subsequently engaged the criminals in a gun duel that lasted for three hours.
The attack was successfully repelled with the terrorists withdrawing in disarray while evacuating their dead and wounded.
The success achieved was however at a huge cost with three of the troops paying the supreme sacrifice to prevent the killing of the inhabitants of Okokolo and the intended sacking of the community. Inaddition to the death of the two soldiers and one Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps personnel, two other soldiers were wounded and immediately evacuated to the Nigerian Air Force hospital in Makurdi.
In a swift reaction to the gallantry exhibited by the troops of OPWS, His Excellency the Executive Governor of Benue State Rev Fr hyacinth Alia rep by the Deputy Governor His Excellency Barr Sam Ode and the Force Commander OPWS visited the troops on 19 January 2024.
The team were received by the Chairman Agatu LGA, Hon Yakubu Ochepo and the traditional rulers of the communities in the LGA. During the visit, His Excellency commensurate with troops of Sector 5 OPWS and the entire OPWS troops.
He assured the Joint Task Force of the continual support of the State Government and promised to assist in the treatment of the wounded.
The FC OPWS also commended the troops and encouraged them to put the set back of the loss of their colleagues behind and remain focused on the mission of ridding the Joint Operations Area of the Force of all criminality.
The FC also used the opportunity to intimate the troops of the support of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in the conduct of their operations. The troops were also informed of the speedy recovery of the wounded soldiers taken to the hospital as a result of the incidence.
The FC assured the governor of the commitment of the Force to continue to carry out the mandate and mission of the Force as aptly directed by the CDS for the security of life and properties in the Force Joint Operations Area.
He noted that further operations are already on to track the assailants to their hideout.