Senator representing Benue North-East senatorial district in the Senate, Gabriel Suswam has called for probe into the circumstances leading to the killing of a repentant Benue militia leader, Terwase Agwa-za alias Gana, on Tuesday by security forces in Benue State.
In a press statement titled, “A Time to Heal”, issued yesterday and personally signed by the Benue federal lawmaker, he described the killing of Gana as extra-judicial, adding that the development “leaves a sour taste” with possible consequences like the Boko Haram terrorism.
“At times of uncertainties and crisis, it is incumbent on statesmen to stand out and douse situations especially those that threaten the good order of society. The role of elders at times like this is not to inflame passions or fan the embers of hate but to heal all wounds. We are at such a critical juncture in our existence in Benue State”.
“The events of September 8, 2020 in my senatorial district where repentant criminals, who had sur-rendered after extensive persuasions were singled out and killed extra judicially leaves a sour taste and has opened a gaping wound that requires all efforts to heal,” Suswam said.
He pointed out that his senatorial district had been traumatized and the people terrorised by activities of criminal gangs led by Agwaza for many years, saying that the consequences of the endless terrorism has been a steady decline of economic and social activities, leaving a once prosperous people pauper-ized.
Suswam noted that the Benue State government along with the security agencies had long desired for a return to normalcy in the area, hence, the consensus to reach out to the outlaws to persuade them to drop their arms and channel their energies towards the rebuilding of the thoroughly battered com-munity.
“We were all excited to see the dreaded Gana come out of hiding to the warm embrace of our tradi-tional rulers, clergy and political leaders at a public function at the Akume Atongo Stadium in Katsina Ala”.
“Our joy was multiplied when we saw him along with his militia surrender arms and publicly renounce a life of crime. Our revered King extracted a pledge from him never to turn his kingdom into a waste-land,” he explained.
The Senator said he was, therefore, dumbfounded to learn that while Gana was on his way to the state capital to present himself to Governor Samuel Ortom, his convoy that included political leaders, traditional rulers, clergy men and security agencies was allegedly ambushed by armed soldiers and the repentant militia kingpin was isolated and taken away and later pictures began to circulate on so-cial media of the bullet-ridden body of Gana.
“While I have been consistent in condemning the reign of terror he (Gana) unleashed on his communi-ty, 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 toour security problems. The les-sons of the Boko Haram escalation after a similar murder of its leader are still here with us.
“If this method is accepted as a norm in our country, there will be no need for laws and courts. We stand to benefit more by subjecting suspects to due process of the law. Information extracted from a
living Gana would have helped security agents get to the root of activities of criminals. By this gestapo style execution, we have missed an opportunity to learn vital lessons about the structure of
crime in the area.
“Even war criminals captured alive are entitled to certain rights. The claim that Gana was killed in a gunfight needs further explanation because those who accompanied him and who watched him being taken away, including his local government chairman do not believe he was in possession of any arms. An independent judicial commission of inquiry will unravel facts of the matter to serve as lessons for the future,”
Senator Suswam said.