The Defence Headquarters on Thursday denied reports that Nigerian troops had been deployed to Benue State following deadly attacks on Fulani in the state. “The claim is not true and it now appears like some people are playing politics with security,” defence spokesperson, John Agim said on telephone Thursday night. “The troops only went on a specific mission and have since returned to base.”
Panic spread quickly across Benue on Thursday after images surfaced online of a convoy of troops riding along major roads in the state, where several attacks linked to farmers-herders crisis have been recorded in recent weeks. Some newspapers also reported the images and quoted a spokesperson for 707 Special Forces Brigade in Makurdi as confirming the deployment and assuring Gboko residents of their safety. Daily Independent quoted Olabisi Ayeni, a major, as saying that the soldiers arrived Gboko in seven Toyota Hilux vans ”to scare away criminal elements.”
The Defence Headquarters, however, insisted in a follow up enquiry Friday morning that there was no contradiction between its account Thursday night and the statement by the 707 Brigade spokesperson that troops were indeed on ground in Makurdi Thursday.