Tiv, Jukun Youths Trade Accusations
Controversy has continued to trail Tuesday’s killing of Benue warlord, Terwase Agwaza a.k.a. Gana by the Army with Tiv and Jukun youths trading blames over the incident.
Gana, who had earlier been declared wanted by the Police and the Nigeria Army and on whose head a ransom of N50 million was placed by the Benue State Government was killed by the Army after intercepting the convoy conveying him and other members of his gang who had earlier in the day surrendered their arms at the Akume Atongo Stadium in Katsina Ala in embrace of amnesty granted them by Governor Samuel Ortom.
Since the news of his killing was made public by the Army, there have been mixed reactions from different segments of the public particularly from Tiv political and traditional leaders and their Jukun neighbours.
In a press release made available to newsmen in Nasarawa State, the Tiv Youth Forum had accused the Taraba State Government and the Jukuns of complicity in the killing of Gana alleging that the sum of N400 million was paid by Taraba Government to execute Gana.
The Tiv youths equally accused former Chief of Army staff, Gen. T.Y. Danjuma (Rtd) of paying the sum of N250 million towards the execution of Gana.
But in swift reaction, the Federation of Jukun Youths, in a press release signed by its convener, Agbujoro Agya, a copy of which was made available to NigerianDaily in Jalingo, commended the military for doing a great job by killing Gana, saying the dissatisfaction expressed by the Tiv youths was an indication that they had been beneficiaries of his criminal activities.
Insisting that the condemnation of Gana’s killing by the Tiv youths was condemnable, the Jukun Youths noted that having returned to criminal activities after being given amnesty in 2015, there was no guarantee or assurance that he would turn a new leaf if given another amnesty.
Dismissing the alleged payment of N400 and N250 million by Taraba government and Gen T.Y. Danjuma to kill Gana as laughable, the statement wondered how Taraba State government could raise such an amount of money considering the meagre monthly subvention that accrues to the state saying the allegation was aimed at staging the Taraba state government into the killing which they maintained was a purely military operation.
Calling on the Tiv youths to desist from defending ‘a terrorist’, the Jukun Youths claimed that for the Army to be on Gana’s trail for four years without being able to apprehend him was an indication that he was being shielded by his people.
Meanwhile, wife of the militia leader, Mrs. Wantor Akwaza has demanded the sum of N5 billion from the Federal government as compensation for the killing of her husband.
Making the demand while speaking with Journalists in Makurdi, Mrs. Akwaza also called on the Federal government to investigate the circumstances surrounding the killing of her husband.
According to her “After the initial amnesty, he went back into the bush. When the second amnesty came, he was briefing me about the development.
“I spoke with him on Saturday and he told me that he was going for the amnesty and that he is tired of the life he was living. That if the amnesty is genuine, he want to surrender his life to God and work for him. My husband was not a wicked person”, she stated.
How Gana stopped convoy, switched cars before arrest, killing by soldiers
In a related development more facts emerged that Benue State’s most wanted criminal, Terwase Akwaza, aka Gana, might have had a premonition of his death as he swapped cars in the government convoy that was taking him and other repentant militias to Makurdi, the state capital.
Sources, who were eyewitnesses, told our correspondent that when the convoy took off from Katsina-Ala at about 1:30pm on Tuesday, Gana was in one of the official vehicles of one of the paramount rulers.
They, however, said that when they crossed the River Katsina-Ala Bridge, Gana asked that he be allowed to join a priest who was in a local government chairman’s official car.
The Benue warlord had accepted to renounce his way of crime after traditional rulers from Sankera community mediated and appealed to him to accept the amnesty offered by the State Governor, Samuel Ortom.
Gana and about 132 repentant members of his gang were on their way to Makurdi where they were expected to be received by the state security council when the government convoy conveying them was intercepted near Yandev Roundabout in Gboko.
Gana and 40 others were, thereafter, arrested.
Our correspondent was told that Gana was seated at the back of the Chairman of Katsina-Ala Local Government Area’s official car alongside the chairman, Alfred Atera.
The soldiers were also said to have pulled out a yet-to-be-identified priest sitting beside Gana.
The Commander of Four Special Force Brigade, Major General Ali Gadzama, later addressed journalists in the Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State where he said Gana was killed in a shootout with soldiers.
Sources, however, told our correspondent that the deceased had shown some moves which suggested that he knew he might be murdered or betrayed by the people.
One of the sources noted that Gana, who took off from his base in Gbitse, told the mediators who were mostly traditional rulers from Sankera area to send a trusted monarch to come and pick him up from his base to Katsina-Ala as he did not want to come down alone.
The source said, “Not for fear of security operatives but I think he probably thought that in case anything happened to him, it should be known to his mediators. So, the traditional rulers had to send delegates along with security men to Gbitse to bring him to Katsina-Ala.
“Part of the arrangements was to go straight to the residence of Tor Sankera and the paramount ruler of Sankera community, Abu King Shuluwa, but Gana objected to this and asked to be received at Akume Atongo stadium which is a public place.
“It was the change in the arrangements that delayed the programme because the initial plan was that Gana and other repentant persons were to be received at the Government House, Makurdi by members of the state security council latest at 1:00pm.”
The source added that Gana was brought to the stadium at about 12:30pm on Tuesday.
Another source said he was received at Akume Atongo stadium by traditional rulers, religious leaders, stakeholders and a mammoth crowd, some of whom thronged the stadium to catch a glimpse of him.
The source said as of the time the convoy took off from Katsina-Ala at about 1:30pm, Gana was in one of the paramount rulers’ official cars.
The source said, “But as soon as they crossed River Katsina-Ala Bridge, Gana asked the convoy to stop and told the traditional rulers around him that he was not comfortable with the car he was in. He then asked to be moved to join the car in which a priest was travelling which happened to be the official car of the local government chairman, Alfred Orya Atera.
“As he stepped out to enter the car, he looked back at the town and decided to give up his wayward life. He was going to embrace amnesty and if the amnesty was a ploy to kill him to end the crisis, he warned that someone would emerge after him that would be more brutal than him.
“All these were spoken in Tiv language. Then he added that he would be more comfortable sitting with the priest in the vehicle and that in case, he died, he wanted to die with Christ. Then, he entered and the convoy zoomed off. Unfortunately, the convoy was intercepted close to Yandev Roundabout in Gboko by soldiers.”
Gana, who was from a humble background, was alleged to be used by politicians, especially during elections.
A community leader in the Logo Local Government Area of Benue State, Joseph Anawah, said, “He joined Tiv youths to go into battle against the Kuteb of Taraba State to protect his people. His bravery gave him the pseudonym of Gana. At the time the crisis subsided, Gana formed a militia group and in the cause of looking for a means of survival, he took to criminal activities of robbery and wherever there was a disagreement, squabbles in the community, he and his gang would intervene.
We’ve accepted Gana’s killing as act of God –Benue govt
Meanwhile, the Benue State Government and stakeholders in the Sankera axis area of the state on Friday pleaded with the military authority to release the 35 repentant militias arrested alongside Gana, who was later killed on Tuesday.
Addressing journalists after the expanded security council meeting, involving stakeholders from the Sankera axis, Governor Samuel Ortom said that the meeting resolved not to take issue with the military.
Ortom added, “The expanded State Security Council met today (Friday) with Sankera stakeholders and resolved not to take issue with the military concerning what has happened but to accept it as an act of God.
“Whatever has happened, we have to move forward, we cannot bring back the dead, though we are pained and we are waiting for more clarification on the killing.
“We also resolved that the military should release the repentant militias arrested by the military so that they can continue with the amnesty programme.”