BRIGADIER General ONYEMA Nwachukwu, Defence spokesperson has disclosed that the Nigerian Army is already considering to withdraw troops in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa.
The troops, code-named Operation Whirl Stroke were deployed to secure the three states due to the herdsmen/farmers clashes that have reportedly claimed 1,700 lives, last year, according to the Global Terrorism Index.
The military authorities said its mission in the three states has been accomplished.
“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,” Nwachukwu said on Saturday
“We just traveled 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.”
The general explained that the operation which commenced in June 2018 was mainly to curtail herdsmen attacks, communal crisis, and militia groups, stressing that there is relative peace in the concerned states.
Reacting to arguments made by Samuel Ortom, the state governor that troops withdrawal might cause a return of the communal conflicts, Nwachukwu, said the action won’t be an ‘outright shutdown.’
Ortom, in the height of the crisis, signed the anti-open grazing law to promote ranching.
“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 drawdown and that drawdown is not immediate. It is going to be phased. So, it’s not like to pack your things and get out of the place.
“Again, we have made provisions that as the troops drawdown, as we wind down the operation, we have some benchmark that has been put in place to ensure that there is no resurgence of these criminalities,” he stated in a report by Channels.