No fewer than 73 young men were, on Monday night, apprehended by operatives of the 72 Special Forces Brigade, Nigeria Army, Makurdi, at Agan Toll Gate, Makurdi, the Benue state capital, with 47 Bajaj motorcycles loaded in five trucks.
It was gathered that the young men, all from Nasarawa State, were on their way to Imo State when soldiers, acting on intelligence reports, stopped the vehicles conveying them.
It was further gathered that the trucks were conveying some minerals from Plateau State to a Port Harcourt-based company.
Benue State Deputy Governor, Engr Benson Abounu, who was at the scene of the arrest, yesterday morning, commended the Special Forces for their diligence and professional conduct, adding that despite the attempts to evade arrest, the soldiers were able to apprehend the trucks and arrest the men.
He, however, debunked speculations making the rounds in town that the trucks were confiscated because they were loaded with arms and men to attack the state.
“I am happy to inform you that after a thorough search of the vehicles by the soldiers, no arms were found in them, contrary to the news making the rounds in town.”
Abounu wondered why such a large number of young men from the same state could be found together going to a place, like Imo State, which they know to be experiencing serious security challenges at the moment.
The deputy governor, who noted that the answers coming from them did not add up, charged the security men to carry out detailed profiling of the passengers for further action.
Speaking on the issue, the Commander of 72 Special Forces Brigade, Lt. Col. AD Alhassan, said he and his men were able to arrest the men based on a security report they got about them.
Alhassan said they moved to intercept the trucks immediately they got the hint that they were heading towards Makurdi, stressing that they spent a couple of hours waiting for them before they finally arrived at night.
The Brigade Commander, however, noted that after a thorough search on them with all goods on the trucks offloaded and their motorcycles dismantled for proper search, no arms were found.
One of the young men, who identified himself as Emmanuel Ayugwa, said they were going to Imo State to do Okada business.
“Yes, we are aware of the serious security challenges there (in Imo), but we decided to go because our brothers there told us that everything had calmed down. That’s why we are going there to do Okada business.”
Mr. Ayugwa, who said they only chose to travel by their bike, using the truck to lessen their expenses, could not, however, explain how all of them from different places in Nasarawa State was able to find themselves in the trucks, which started their journeys from Plateau State.
Contacted through a phone call, the manager of the company that owns the minerals said he was not aware of the arrangements by the drivers to carry any other person apart from the motor boy and a company escort, and that they were strictly warned not to carry anyone else in the trucks.