By Godwin Edeh & Matthew Ajai-Kume
12 armed bandits were on Tuesday neutralised in a military raid of their hideouts around Bonta village in Konshisha Local Government Area of Benue State Tuesday.
The Voice gathered that the bandits were part of the gang that attacked soldiers sent to the area to keep peace between warring Bonta community in Konshisha LGA and Ukpute-Ainu community of Oju LGA over land, a development which made government to draft military troops to patrol the area to keep peace.
It would be recalled that on Monday, troops deployed to maintain peace between the two warring communities were reportedly ambushed around Bonta village by a group of bandits known as ‘Bonta Boys.’ It was gathered they seized some of the soldiers.
It was further gathered that the military raid which was commandered by both air and land troops led to the destruction of houses and property suspected to be housing armed bandits in the area and several arms were said to have been recovered.
Residents of Bonta village and environs have all deserted their villages and are currently taking refuge at Konshisha LGA headquarters, Tse-Agberagba.
Efforts to reach the theatre commander of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), Major General Adeyemi Yekini was to no avail as he was not reachable. However, when contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Benue Police Command, DSP Catherine Anene said she is not aware of any military operation in Konshisha.
Relatedly, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has sued for peace in the warring communities of Bonta in Konshisha Local Government Area and that of Ukpute in Oju Local Government Area, in order to foster progress and development.
Governor Ortom made this call Wednesday while briefing journalists after an expanded Security Council meeting with stakeholders from the two local government areas.
He condemned the attack on security agents sent to the area to keep peace while he called on all, particularly the youths to cooperate with security agencies to arrest the bandits fueling the crises, in order for absolute peace to reign in the two communities.
The governor explained that as part of measures to end the land dispute between Konshisha and Oju communities, boundary demarcation was agreed upon and a day was fixed for the exercise. He however, said before the fixed day, crisis erupted again and security agents were deployed to control its escalation when the troops sent to Konshisha came under attack with two military personnel still missing.
He appealed to stakeholders from both local government areas to go back home and talk to their subjects to embrace peaceful co-existence.