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Rainfalls helping criminals hide in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba. Military

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The Defence Headquarters, Abuja, through Operation Whirl Stroke, said on Tuesday that armed groups were still hiding in hinterlands in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states as a result of the rainfalls and rough terrain.

The Operation Commander, Maj. Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, who stated this during a press briefing, however said those criminals hiding in areas currently inaccessible would be flushed out by December.

He said the rains and the bad roads had halted military advances into the hinterlands where some members of the armed groups were still hiding.

Operation Whirl Stroke was set up by the military to tackle armed herdsmen and militia groups perpetrating violence in the three states.

Yekini said the delay in the return of some Internally Displaced Persons to their houses in the three states was due to socio-economic challenges.

He said, “The rains and the bad roads have halted our advances into the hinterlands where pockets of the insurgents are still hiding. Killer herdsmen and militia who are still hiding in areas currently inaccessible in the three states due to rough terrain will be flushed out before December.

“Our assurance is that with the dry season fast approaching, there will be no limits to advances and attacks on the insurgents. So far, we have facilitated the return of a total of 150,000 Internally Displaced Persons to their homes in Benue State.

“We appeal to the various state governments to support efforts to resettle the displaced persons. It is not because of security challenges alone that IDPs are not returning home; people are still there as economic IDPs because the resources to actually go back on their own without some form of assistance are not available.

“So, I think that the state governments should be looking at the model that was adopted by Nasarawa State whereby when the people were going back home, the government intervened and provided some seedlings. The government also gave them building materials, and even cash to enable them to go back home.”

The military commander noted that 12 members of a deadly gang led by one suspect, identified as Gana, had been killed, adding that more than 100 criminal elements in the states had been killed in the operation’s areas of responsibility.

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