Gov. Hyacinth Alia of Benue has called for the deployment of more troops and establishment of 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 on 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 number of 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 Logo local local government area, Zaki-Biam in Ukum local Government Area and Udei and Gbajimba in Guma local government area.
“It should be established also at Naka in Gwer West local government area, Pontar in Konshisha local government area and Adikpo in 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 the 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 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 base (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.