The Special Military Task Force in charge of security in Plateau, Bauchi and Kaduna States code named Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) has paraded 26 suspected criminals arrested in connection to possession of fire arms and cultism in the state.
Parading the suspects before newsmen at the OPSH headquarters in Jos yesterday, Commander of OPSH, Major General Augustine Agundu said, in their efforts to rid the state of gunmen and make the state free of violence and killings, they went after anyone that is in possession of fire arms without permission.
According to him, 15 of the suspects were arrested for being in possession of illegal fire arms, while the other 11 were arrested for their involvement in cultists’ activities in Jos
“It is my belief that if we must stop these killings in the state and restore peace, we have to mop up arms in the state. And in doing, so we discovered that these cultists are some of the major gunmen terrorising residents in the state capital. And these other suspects were arrested from villages where attacks and killings are rampant.
The OPSH boss further stressed, “The search for illegal fire arm is on in the state, I don’t belief that the few we are parading now are the only people with guns in the state, but we are parading them to send signal to others that we are coming after them. No one should think you have a hiding place for your gun, very soon we will discover others and fish them out like these ones.
“So I want to use this opportunity to tell people of the state that if you know you own gun illegally, surrender it to us in your own interest before we get you. We are not going to leave any stone unturned to clear the state of small arms and light weapons. So far we have recovered closed to 50 guns in this raid. We believed there are more out there and we will mop them up soon.”
According to him, the cultists have confessed to their crimes and are undergoing rehabilitation “with us at the command. They have accepted to denounce cultism”.
“As for these criminals caught with arms, they have confessed to the crime and revealed to us how they come about their guns and ammunitions. We are still investigating and after that we will charge them to court to face the law of the country.”
James Abok, one of the suspect told newsmen that he found AK-47 rifle from the bush in 2004 after an attack in Barkin Ladi local government area and decided to report himself to the soldiers.
Another suspect, Benjamin Mallo, confessed that he was caught and brought to the OPSH headquarters and was later granted bail. He was caught again with locally made pistol among the 15 arrested from the villages.
“So I want to assure citizens of the state to be rest assured that they can go about their normal businesses without fear of molestation because we are on top of our job and we have declared war against all forms of criminals in this state,” said Gen. Agundu.