Ortom Expresses Shock over Killing of Wanted Militia Leader, Gana

  • Suswam demands probe of incident

Deji Elumoye in Abuja and George Okoh in Makurdi

Benue State Governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom, has expressed shock over the interception of a government convoy, arrest and killing of Terwase Akwaza popularly known as Gana by military authorities.

Also, the former state Governor, Senator Gabriel Suswam, has condemned the alleged extra-judicial killing of the notorious criminal, who had been terrorising the state, and called for investigation.

Ortom made his feelings known yesterday at the Benue Peoples House in Makurdi while briefing journalists on the state of the second amnesty programme of his administration, which covers Sankera geopolitical zone.

He, however, noted that he was still awaiting briefing from the Commander of Operation Ayem A Kpatuma from Doma in Nasarawa State, Major General Moundhey Gadzama Ali, who promised he was coming to brief him on their operation.

The governor stated that five repentant youths from Ukum Local Government Area of the state, who were among those arrested by the Nigerian Army were released and were conveyed to the Benue Peoples House in Makurdi by the LGA Chairman of Ukum, Hon. Stephen Ayua, to be part of the amnesty offer.

The governor explained that the amnesty programme was not truncated as those who could not make it to Makurdi, due to the confusion created by the military operation, would be given another chance.

He urged the people of Sankera to remain calm as he was still investigating the circumstances surrounding the arrest and killing of Gana before taking action on the matter, stressing that he owes the Benue people the duty to protect their lives and property.

Ortom had earlier addressed the 42 repentant youths, and commended them for choosing to abandon their negative ways to open a new chapter in their lives.

Gana was killed yesterday in Nasarawa State by the military after exchanging gun duel with them.

Meanwhile, Suswam has condemned the alleged extra-judicial killing of Gana by the military, and called for investigation.

Suswam urged Ortom to set up an independent judicial commission of enquiry with a view to getting to the root of the matter.

Suswam, who represents Benue North East senatorial district in the National Assembly, in a statement issued yesterday, which was titled: ‘A Time to Heal’, emphasised that setting up of an independent judicial commission of inquiry into the killing would unravel facts of the matter to serve as lessons for the future.

He punctured the claim by the military that the repentant criminal was armed at the time he was killed, saying: “The claim that Gana was killed in a gunfight needs further explanation because those who accompanied him and watched him being taken away, including his LGA chairman, do not believe he was in possession of any arm.”

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Power expressed concern that the repentant criminal could be killed by the military after he had formally laid down his arms.

He said: “I was totally dumbfounded to learn that while Gana was on his way to Makurdi, the state capital, to present himself to the state governor, who was waiting, his long convoy that included political leaders, traditional rulers, clergy men and security agencies was ambushed by alleged armed soldiers and he was isolated and taken away. In the midst of the confusion, pictures began to circulate on social media of the bullet ridden body of Gana with a rifle callously placed on his side.”

“While I have been consistent in condemning the reign of terror he unleashed on his community, I cannot in good conscience as a lawyer of over three decades and a senior parliamentarian accept cold-blooded extra-judicial murder of an unarmed person as a solution to our security problems.”

The lessons of the Boko Haram escalation after a similar murder of its leader are still with us today.”