Who was the army officer who gave that final order that the Benue state-born gangster-turned peacemaker, Terwase Akwaza, alias ‘Gana’, be shot and his body riddled with bullets to give the impression that he was involved in a firefight with the army? Whoever gave that order may never be revealed but whoever he is, he is certainly not a thinker, a strategist, a brave fighter, a gentleman and an officer. He is a mischievous and cowardly revenge- seeker for private or group interest who did not care about the fate of his country. And the cowardice of that officer has been magnified by the army’s provocative demand of the bounty offer of N50 million placed on the head of Gana when he was a wanted man.
And if the person who gave the order is a civilian political leader, that person is not a leader and is certainly not a statesman. He is something else: a willing, callous trouble maker for his country for we are yet to see what the murder of Gana may trigger. My people say that it is the day you kill a mad man that you will know he has relatives.
Since that incident, the nation has been plunged into shock and disbelief. Many are wondering: has our army de-scended to such low depths, abducting a repentant man in full view of everyone and murdering him and lying about the matter? There is an uneasy quiet that has enveloped the whole country following the killing of Gana. Many seem embarrassed to say something because they feel no sane person should be seen saying something in favour of a man who once lived a violent life. Some quote the saying that he who lives by the sword should die by it.
But the singular move Gana made that day changed everything about him. From what we know of God, I will not be surprised at all if the man goes straight to heaven and those who killed him, unless they repent, are the ones who will go straight to hell fire for what they did was naked murder and God hates murderers. He was not killed in battle or in a just war.
Unlike millions of other Nigerians who have been intimidated into silence, I am not keeping quiet because I know the implication of keeping quiet when an incident such as this happens. Remaining silent means I support what was done to Akawaza and I do not. I am, therefore, saying here very loud and clear that Akwaza may have been a man given to violence but that he was killed in such a cowardly fashion on a day he had said publicly that he had repented of his sins, is distasteful and those who killed him have his blood on their hands. I publicly here exempt myself and my family and those who reason like me from that horrible crime committed against that child of God.
We do not need to feel ashamed of Gana and refuse to speak for him. He represents a long list of men who were once murderers and men of violence who overcame their violent past and became kings, religious leaders and statesmen. The first is King David the son of Jesse. David was once a leader of bandits and rebels against society. He became the greatest king on earth, referred to every day as a model leader. Apostle Paul was a noted murderer. He later led those he once persecuted and prosecuted. Who knows what Gana would have become if he was allowed to live and not wickedly killed by men of little minds given more to vengeance than to forgiveness?
If we have thinkers in the army, they would have known that if they kill Gana many will mock at them and say they are a ‘woman’ army. Gana was declared a wanted man several years ago. The army, police, DSS and all of their tribe looked for him everywhere in vain. Why did the army wait for Governor Ortom, traditional rulers, priests, elders and other ‘bloody’ civilians to work out an arrangement that brought Gana out before they picked him up like a chicken? If the army had any sense of pride and honour they ought to have stayed away from Gana licking their wounds because they simply could not lay hands on him when they were needed to apprehend him; he smartly outwitted them.
Our army people too are not strategic thinkers. With what they did to Gana who again will ever come out when next someone talks about amnesty? Do they think Nigerians are fools? In the encounter between Gana and the Nigerian Army, Gana has shown that he is more honourable than the whole institution called the army. He kept his word when he said he was ready for peace. The army, on their part, has shown that they have no respectable principle; that they are worse than even agbero people. If they had picked up Gana and sought to put him on legal trial, no one would have complained although they would have still faced jeers and mockery for seeking to gain plaudits for his arrest when it was not them who actually worked for his surrender.
With what the army has done now I hope no one in the presidency will come out one day to deny when Amnesty In-ternational comes out with statistics about the number of Nigerians who face extra-judicial killings in the hands of our security forces.
In spite of what we have become, this country still has a hierarchy and today President Muhammadu Buhari sits atop that hierarchy. He must accept responsibility for Gana’s death even if he didn’t hear a whiff of what the army was planning against him. And let no one tell us he did not know. If he didn’t know it, that means that he is not taken seri-ously by the army as the commander- in -chief of our armed forces and that should worry him. And if he knew and didn’t stop it, then he is not a great commander –in- chief. And I believe it is not too late yet for the President to apol-ogise on behalf of himself and the whole country for the murder of a citizen in cold blood regardless of his persona feeling about Gana.
President Muhammadu Buhari has not mourned Gana yet in the open and sincere manner King David mourned the killing of Abner, one of his ablest generals who was unjustly killed by another of his general for personal reasons. And when David mourned Abner, the whole of the Israelitish nation knew that David had no hands in the death of Abner although Abner himself had offended David before. It is an action that gave stability to his nation.
Whatever justification the army had in mind, that crime committed by them is not meant to advance the cause of our nation for there is a precedent in our country in which people who have taken up arms against the fatherland have been pardoned and are living peaceful lives contributing their quota to the building of their fatherland. Why was Ga-na’s own different? Is it that he had killed more people than all others or is it that it is some particular persons he killed that made his sin so unbearable and deserving of coldblooded execution?
The soldier or soldiers who pulled that trigger may God forgive him/them for what he/they did. May he not hold that sin against him/them or their generation for the great crime that was committed that day. We ask God to hold ac-countable all the high ups who gave that order or turned a blind eye to the murder.
I feel some pity for our soldiers and their commanders. No matter how they pretend about not caring about what happened, it will cost the Nigerian army time, money and other goodwill acts before any reasonable Nigerian can be-lieve and trust them. And without the trust and support of the civilians, what can any army do?
But it is not all lamentation and no redeeming feature. The lesson they should all learn from the Gana debacle is that our soldiers should not accept to become an army of anything goes. Even if a civilian political boss had given such an order someone high up in the army should have had the courage and good sense to sit that boss down and patiently and persuasively reason him out from carrying out of such a thought. After all, it has been established since the Nu-remberg Trials that no one has the right or excuse to say he was obeying orders when he is asked to do an illegal thing.
In case the President is not aware of it, let me tell him that many Nigerians think that most of our security agencies, including the army, have been prostituted and made to take sides in the many communal and inter-communal wars taking place in our country. In the many fights between the Fulanis and many host communities, allegations are rife that the army takes sides on the side of the Fulanis. There may be no truth to these allegations but many nevertheless believe so. Many now think that the killing of Gana, a former Tiv warlord, is a continuation of that Great War between the Fulanis and Tivs and it smacks of vengeance. Unless the President acts like King David did in the death of Abner no one will believe that he did not know or has no hand in the killing of Gana.
I am lamenting today, particularly about the army, because that once respectable institution is just about the only one of its kind in the country that the politicians in their mad quest for power have not destroyed. When a matter like this, the order to kill Gana, comes up, I expect that the few officers and gentlemen left in the army hierarchy will rise up and say respectfully, even if it is a presidential order, that ‘’No sir, this is not good enough, it will create problems for us and for the country. Let us stay action on this’’. There are many things that leaders of nations endure not because they are powerless but because showing power will bring unintended consequences that far outweigh the action be-ing contemplated.
This nation is going down and down every day and I expect that anyone who is in a position to help stop the slide should be bold and courageous enough to rise and say, ‘’enough!’’Or we risk inviting anarchy upon our land.