Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters, DHQ, on Saturday, said it will withdraw troops of the Operation Whirl Stroke from Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa States.
Speaking to journalists in Benue, the Defence Spokesman, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, said the operation, which began in June 2018 to combat herdsmen attacks, communal crisis and militia groups, had largely restored peace in the affected areas.
“We have a mandate; we have a mission. And the mission fundamentally is to maintain peace, safety and security in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa States. And to a very large extent, that mission has been achieved.
“We just travelled all the way to Gbishe now and all I see on the road was tranquility, people going about their normal businesses. We have been to countries like Liberia where we had operations where there was civil war, when we met the mandate we began to draw down and that is exactly what is going to happen here,” he said.
He however reacted to concerns raised by Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue, that the withdrawal of troops could spark renewed attacks in the affected states.
According to Nwachukwu, the withdrawal wouldn’t be a complete one but would be done gradually in phases.
“I saw comments made by His Excellency, the Governor of Benue State (Samuel Ortom). It is not an outright shutdown of the operation. It is not as if we are going to close the operation, pack our bags and vacate the operational area, that is not what is happening.
“There is going to be a draw down and that draw down is not immediate. It is going to be phased. So, it’s not like pack your things and get out of the place.
“Again, we have made provisions that as the troops draw down, as we wind down the operation, we have some benchmark that have been put in place to ensure that there is no resurgence of these criminalities,” he stated.
The brigadier general also revealed that the military authorities have developed kinetic operation that have involved traditional and political leaders aimed at maintaining peace in the region.
With reports by ChannelsTV