At least 73 youths from Nasarawa state travelling in 5 trucks to Imo state have been intercepted by Nigerian soldiers.
Personnel from 72 Special Forces Brigade, Nigeria Army, Makurdi, arrested the men on Monday night, June 14, at Agan Toll Gate, Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
The soldiers said the suspects had 47 Bajaj motorcycles on board the five trucks. Minerals like zinc and lead were also found in the trucks and the men claimed to be conveying them from Plateau State to a Port Harcourt, Rivers State-based company.
The suspects had various home addresses in Nasarawa State.
Benue State Deputy Governor Benson Abounu, who was with the soldiers Wednesday morning, June 16, commended the Special Forces for their diligence and professional conduct.
He said despite attempts to evade arrest, the soldiers impounded the trucks and arrested the men.
The deputy governor expressed surprise that 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.
Abounu, an engineer, challenged the security men to carry out detailed profiling of the passengers for further action as the answers coming from them do not add up.
Speaking on the issue, the Commander of 72 Special Forces Brigade, Lt. Col. AD Alhassan said he and his men acted based on security report as they moved to intercept the trucks immediately they got the hint that they were heading towards Makurdi.
He said they spent a few hours waiting for them before they finally arrived at night.
He said a thorough search has been conducted on them with all goods on the trucks offloaded and their motorcycles dismantled for proper search, but said no arms were found.
When questioned, one of the young men, who claimed his name is Emmanuel Ayugwa said they were going to Imo State to do okada business. He said though they were aware of the serious security challenges there, they decided to go because their brothers there told them that everything had calmed down.
Ayugwa, who said they only chose to travel with their bikes using the truck to lessen their expenses, could not explain how all of them from different places in Nasarawa State were able to find themselves in the trucks, which started their journeys from Plateau State.
Findings through a phone call with the manager of the company that owns the minerals show that the trucks were loaded with lead, zinc and barytes from Plateau State and headed for a company in Port-Harcourt, The Nation reports.
The manager said he was not aware of the arrangements by the driver 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.