Troops of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) operating in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States, have paraded 19 suspects arrested in different parts of the states for various offences bordering on armed banditry, kidnapping and weapons supply.
Dauda Atara and Andrew Imbwase who were major armourers and suppliers of weapons to Benue’s most wanted kidnapper, Terwase Akwaza (aka Gana) and two other kidnappers were among those arrested and paraded.
Force Commander of OPWS, Maj.-Gen. Adeyemi Yekini said 10 of the suspects were arrested in Gboko Local Government area of Benue State while three others were arrested during a raid operation at Gana’s hometown of Gbishe in Katsina-Ala Local Government area of the state.
Parading the suspects, General Yekini said the two major suspects were the number one weapon suppliers and armourers of Terwase Akwaza.
“Gentlemen, you have seen and interviewed the suspects and I can tell you with every sense of responsibility that this crop of criminals are perhaps, the most deadly set of criminals that we have ever arrested since the inception of Operation Whirl Stroke and our hope is that the prosecuting authorities will do a good job so that these people can be removed from the society for a very long time.
“You will recall that some weeks back, we had a press briefing during which I promised that we shall be focusing on how to break the weapons supply chain that have been fuelling criminalities in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states.
“I am very happy to inform you that we have been able to record some successes. Our star suspect today is Don Moji.
“He is the number one weapon supplier to Gana; he is responsible for between 80 and 90 percent of weapons that Gana has been using to terrorise the people of Benue State. Our intelligence team got wind of Don Moji’s activities about four months ago somewhere around Abuja.
“Just as we were closing in on him to effect his arrest at Abuja, he suddenly disappeared and reappeared a few days later at Owode Idiroko in Ogun State. We again sent troops to the area to arrest him but again he disappeared and for almost two months, we lost track of him. During this period, he did a lot of things to cover his tracks and hide his identity”.
“So when he was sure that he had covered himself well enough after the two months period, he appeared again at Abuja to continue his weapons supply activities to Gana. This time around, he was not that lucky as we were able to arrest him with the support of Guards Brigade troops. We tracked him to somewhere between Kashi and Kurudu in Abuja where we arrest him,” Yekini explained.
He said the 10 suspects arrested in Gboko general area were members of a kidnapping group under Shawa, stressing that the group was responsible for the bulk of kidnapping and other violent crimes in and around Gboko.
“You will recall that some VIPs were kidnapped in Gboko of recent. These ten people were responsible for most of the kidnappings. They also spread their criminal tentacles beyond Gboko into Vandeikya and parts of Cross River State. Since we made the arrests, the rate of kidnappings had gone down considerably in Gboko and we intend to keep it so.”