Two of the suspects arrested by the troops of Operation Whirl Stroke operating in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states, have confessed to supplying at least four AK-47 rifles and 2,000 rounds of ammunition to persons they described as politicians.
Force Commander of OPWS, Maj.-Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, said the two suspects, Dauda Atara and Andrew Imbwase, aka Don Moji, were the “major armourers” and suppliers of weapons to Benue’s most-wanted kingpin, Terwase Akwaza (aka Gana).
The troops had arrested 19 suspects in different parts of Benue and Nasarawa states for various offences bordering on armed banditry, kidnapping and weapons supply.
Parading the suspects at Tactical Air Command, Nigeria Air Force, Makurdi, on Saturday, the Force Commander of OPWS, Maj.-Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, said that 13 of the suspects were arrested in Gboko and Katsina-Ala areas of Benue State.
Among those paraded were two kidnappers who were arrested at Umaisha in Toto Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.
Speaking with journalists after the parade, Yekini said the troops had broken the weapons supply chain fueling criminality in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states.
“Our star suspect today is Don Moji. He is the number one weapon supplier to Gana; he is responsible for between 80 and 90 per cent of weapons that Gana had 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-month period, he appeared again in 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 arrested him,” Yekini explained.
The troops’ commander said the suspect (Don Moji) had led troops to the main armorer of Gana, adding that the armorer was arrested around the North Bank area of Makurdi.
Yekini, who added hat the weapon supply ring extends to Plateau and Taraba states, vowed that troops would soon apprehend all those involved
He explained that the 10 suspects arrested in Gboko area were members of a kidnap group under Shawa, stressing that the group was responsible for the bulk of kidnapping and other violent crimes in and around Gboko.
Both Don Moji and Atara, in an interview with newsmen, admitted the allegations against them in connection with supplying arms and weapons.
Moji confessed, “I was contracted to supply weapons and I contacted somebody in Shendam Local Government area of Plateau State.
“The last time, I supplied 2,000 ammunition to politicians in Gboko and I got my supply through one Dauda Atara, who is my friend.
“I am the one who led soldiers to his house in North Bank after I was arrested.”
In response, Dauda Atara said, “What Don Moji said is true because I was the one that gave him all the guns and ammunition.
“It was not even three AK-47 that we gave out to politicians but four.
“I supplied weapons to Gana, but at a time I stopped because he wanted me to join his gang, but I refused.
“I have been supplying guns to Gana since 2014.
“I also supplied 2,000 ammunition to Moji and I got them from one Bala Igige in North Bank area of Makurdi.”