Gov. Alia seeks increased military presence in Benue

Revd Fr Hycienth Alia
RevdRevd Fr Hycienth Alia. The APC Guber candidate, Benue State.Fr Hycienth Alia

Gov. Hyacinth Alia of Benue has called for the deployment of more troops and more army Forward Operating Bases in some parts of Benue to address the security challenges bedeviling the state.

Alia made the call when he paid a courtesy call to the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, on Tuesday in Abuja.

He requested that the forward operating bases (FOBs) be established in Guma, Logo, Ukum, and Kwande local government areas to help stem insecurity in the areas.

He said that the people of Benue were agrarian people with farming as their main stay, adding that most fertile parts of the Benue Valley had become inaccessible to farmers due to threats by bandits and violence from armed herders.

According to him, two to five or more people are killed every week as a result of violence from these gangs and groups, which in a few cases, the media do not capture.

“The 4O1 Special Forces Brigade is trying its best with its deployment mostly on the main roads while killings continue to take place in the hinterland.

“They are also hampered by insufficient manpower, the APCs, and patrol vehicles.

“Sir, my prayer to you is for the forward operating bases to be established in Anyiin in the Logo local government area, Zaki-Biam in the Ukum Local Government Area, and Udei and Gbajimba in the Guma local government area.

“It should be established also at Naka in the Gwer West local government area, Pontar in the Konshisha local government area, and Adikpo in the Kwande local government areas.

“In the immediate term, while hoping that a full-fledged battalion can be established at Ugbema, our second prayer is for the 401 special force brigade and Operation Whirl Stroke should be provided with additional manpower and patrol vehicles to improve their reach,” he said.

The governor said the state government was willing to provide the army with the needed shelters for the forward operating bases and some logistics.

He said that some local governments in Benue also share boundaries with Cameroon, adding that the discovery of solid minerals in those areas was likely to exacerbate the security situation there.

According to him, it is therefore important that proactive steps be taken by establishing an infantry battalion to cover the general area.

Alia also pledged to ensure the support and cooperation of the communities and locals to ensure an end to the challenges.

In his remarks, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Lagbaja said he had been reviewing the situation in Benue and pledged to do what is best to restore peace to the Benue valley.

He promised to deploy more troops and combat enablers to 104 forward operating bases (FOB), adding that the establishment of more FOBs is subject to budgetary provisions.

He assured the governor of the commitment of the army to ensure the return of peace to the state to enable farmers to return to their farms and boost the economy of the state and the nation at large.