- The Nigerian military has denied media reports claiming that troops have been deployed to Benue state
- Defence Headquarters spokesman, John Agim, described the report as people playing politics with security matters
- Pictures of soldiers moving in a convoy had circulated online causing panic in Benue state
The Nigerian military on Thursday, February 1, denied reports that troops had been deployed to Benue state following recent crisis in the state.
Defence Headquarters spokesman, John Agim, told Premium Times on the phone that “the claim is not true and it now appears like some people are playing politics with security."
According to him, “the troops only went on a specific mission and have since returned to base."
Panic had spread across Benue after images surfaced online of a convoy of troops riding along major roads in the state.
Some news reports also reported the images and quoted a spokesperson for 707 Special Forces Brigade in Makurdi as confirming the deployment and assuring Gboko residents of their safety.
The Defence Headquarters, however, insisted that there was no contradiction between its account and the statement by the 707 Brigade spokesperson that troops were indeed on ground in Makurdi.
Quoting Gboko residents, the report noted that the only soldiers seen around the town as at this morning, February 2, were those working with the police in Operation Zenda.
“Those ones have always been around because they mixed with police when Operation Zenda was launched to combat herdsmen attacks some years back,” a resident said.
Agim, a brigadier-general, said the military has bases in all the 36 states, but only the president can order their active deployment in areas that require intervention.
“As witnessed with the Boko Haram menace, the military is the last line of defence,” Agim said adding that “it cannot just jump up and go into security issues."
Meanwhile, Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, on Wednesday, January 31, imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in Gboko area of the state. Ortom approved the curfew following the recent killing of seven people by some youths in the town.
The state commissioner of police, Fatai Owoseni, while briefing journalists said the victims were travelling either to Okene in Kogi state or Taraba state when the hoodlums attacked them.
Owoseni said the victims were also burnt to ashes by their attackers, adding that some police officers who were deployed to the area were also attacked by the criminals.
Victims of herdsmen killings buried in Benue state on NAIJ.com TV