Benue State Governor, Hyacinth Alia, has called for increased military presence to address the rising insecurity in the state. He specifically urged the Nigerian Army to deploy infantry soldiers to combat the ongoing violence against farmers, primarily perpetrated by suspected herders.
Furthermore, Governor Alia proposed the establishment of a battalion at Ugbema and seven additional forward operating bases in Guma, Logo, Ukum, and Kwande Local Government Areas to enhance the region’s security response.
During a courtesy visit to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, at the Army Headquarters in Abuja, Governor Alia expressed his appreciation for the Nigerian Army’s efforts in maintaining peace in the Benue Valley. However, he emphasized the need for a more comprehensive approach, as the current military deployment mainly secures highways. At the same time, violence continues to plague the hinterland, making it difficult for farmers to access fertile land for agricultural activities.
Governor Alia stated, “Now, every week, we witness the loss of lives due to violence from these criminal groups, many of which go unreported by the media. While the 401 Special Force Brigade is making commendable efforts, their deployment often focuses on major roads, leaving the hinterland vulnerable to attacks.”
He proposed the establishment of forward operating bases in strategic locations, including Anyiin in Logo Local Government Area, Zaki-Biam in Ukum Local Government Area, Udei and Gbajimba in Guma Local Government Area, Naka in Gwer West Local Government Area, Pontar in Konshisha Local Government Area, and Adikpo in Kwande Local Government Area. Governor Alia also called for additional manpower and patrol vehicles to support the 401 Special Force Brigade and Operation Whirl Stroke in their efforts.
Governor Alia assured the Chief of Army Staff of the state’s willingness to provide facilities and logistical support for these forward operating bases, acknowledging the unique challenges faced by Benue in dealing with crises and attacks.
Furthermore, he highlighted the security implications of some local governments sharing a border with Cameroon and the potential exacerbation of insecurity due to the discovery of solid minerals in these areas.
In response, the Chief of Army Staff acknowledged the situation in Benue and pledged to take the necessary actions to restore peace in the Benue Valley. He committed to deploying additional troops and combat enablers to reinforce the existing 104 forward operating bases, with the caveat that establishing more forward operating bases would depend on budgetary allocations.
He also urged the governor to provide infrastructure to support the movement of troops and logistics for their operations, emphasizing the need for collaborative efforts to address the security challenges.