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Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Police arrest, begin quizzing of suspects’ link to killings in Benue

Police arrest, begin quizzing of suspects’ link to killings in Benue

Operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team have arrested and started quizzing four men believed to be part of those terrorising Benue State.

The suspects have been identified as Abdullahi Mohammed, Haruna Bello, Usianie Abdullahi (aka Gide) and Yusuf Barkeje.

The suspects, however, have denied being part of those partaking in the killings.

According to them, their only crime was in supplying AK47 rifles and ammunition to bandits.

IRT Operatives, so far, have recovered 320 rounds of ammunition and two AK47 magazines from them.

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It will be recalled that for years now, Benue State has been taken over by marauding herdsmen, who continue to slaughter residents, determined to take over portions of lands for their cattle to graze.

They have left many villages in the state a waste land.

The orgies of killings appeared to have left security agents overwhelmed.

One of the suspects, Bello, 27, who introduced himself as a Fulani herdsman, married with four children, said it was his friend, Nuru, that introduced him into the illegal ammunition business.

Bello explained: “I met Nuru while we were both rearing cows in a bush.

“Nuru complained to me that Agatu people were killing Fulani’s in Benue State.

“He asked me if I could assist him to source for ammunition, which he would use in fighting Agatu people.

“I told him that I knew Usianie, aka Gide, who is the chief supplier of ammunition in Lafia Nasarawa State.

“I called Gide and asked him to get me 320 rounds of ammunition.

“Gide promised and we arranged to meet in Lafia; that was when the police came and arrested me.

“I have not participated in any communal clashes before, but people in my community had participated and some didn’t return.”

The suspects were arrested just as they were about to deliver ammunition and magazines to their receivers, Yellie, in Lokoja and Bello in Warri, Delta State.

The operation that led to the bursting of the gang was led by the head of IRT, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari.

In the course of investigation, operatives discovered that the bandits used to get their ammunition from syndicates in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and Nassarawa State.

The Police said: “When we commenced investigation, we discovered that their transporter, Mohammed, resides in Kubwa area of Abuja.

“We stormed his hideout and arrested him.

“He revealed that he was contacted to pick another 320 rounds of ammunition from some members of his syndicate in Nasarawa for onward delivery to a contact identified as Bello.

“Mohammed led us to Lafia in Nassarawa State, where we arrested three others: Usianei, Harunna and Barkeje.

“We also recovered the 320 rounds of the ammunition from them.

“They confessed to have started operating last year.

“During operation, they go in a Golf car.

“The rounds of ammunition were usually concealed in partitions on the doors of the Golf car.

“This enables them to beat security checks on the road.”

Mohammed, 20, said: “I started rearing cows when I was eight years old.

“I have seven cows presently in Adamawa State, which are with my younger brother.

“It was a young boy, Smallie, who introduced me into this arms running business last year February.

“I’m the gang’s delivery man.

“I own a golf car, which I use for transportation.

“I ply Kaduna, Taffa and Zaria routes.

“On one of my trips, Smallie started a conversation with me.

“He said that he wanted me to work for him by transporting arms to his contacts across the country.

“He promised to pay me well.

“On my first operation, he paid me N60,000.

“I supplied 150 pieces of ammunition to one Yellie in Lokoja.

“I concealed the ammunition in my vehicle by opening the door mat of my car, wrapped the ammunition in nylon and inserted them into the door mat.

“I then sealed them up and delivered same successfully.

“In April 2020, I took another set of ammunition from Smallie in Kaduna State, to the same location in Lokoja and handed them to Yellie, after which I was paid N100,000.

“I was arrested on the third operation.”

Usianie, 29, also a herdsman, confessed to be getting his supply from a man identified as Sunday.

The said Sunday is based in Benue State.

Usianie, who has two wives and eight children, said: “I rear cows.

“It was while I was rearing cattle that I met Sunday in Benue State.

“He’s an Agatu man, selling arms to herdsmen.

“When Haruna requested for the arms, I approached Sunday, who sold 320 rounds of ammunition to me.

“I paid him N224,000 and it was Haruna that sent me the money.

“Just as I was about to hand over the ammunition to Haruna, police arrested me.

“It was my first supply.”

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