Army Arrests 66 Suspected Criminals, Loses Seven Personnel In Niger

Some suspected criminals paraded by the Commander, Major General Moundhey Gadzama Ali, at the command’s headquarters at Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State on December 23, 2020.

 

Sixty-six suspected criminals comprising of kidnappers, bandits, armed robbers, gunrunners, bandit collaborators, and informants have been arrested by the personnel of the Nigerian Army Four Special Forces Command.

The suspects were paraded on Wednesday by the Commander, Major General Moundhey Gadzama Ali, at the command’s headquarters at Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa state.

Ali said that the command has carried out operations in the North West, North East, and North Central, South-South, South West regions of the country after receiving credible information which led to the rest of several bandits and the killing of some gun runners.

He added that among the suspects, 41 of them are members of the late Benue militia leader, Terwase alias Gana, which also included his Chief Priest, Ugba Iorlumun.

“We have operated in Borno, Yobe, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Niger amongst other places. In Benue, we have arrested the Chief Priest of the late Criminal Terwase alias Gana, one of his men called ‘ Commander’s among others and razed the Shrine. While another criminal, Paul Duguma died in Katsina-Ala,” he said.

“In Niger State, Special Forces with 31 Artillery and the Nigerian Airforce, we neutralized kidnappers, destroyed the dens of Alhaji Damina, while the kidnappers killed each other due to rivalry between the camps of Alhaji Kawuwajo and Zagalo in Kamfanin Wayo, a boundary Village between Niger and Kaduna State.”

READ ALSO: Kankara Abduction: IGP Visits Katsina, Vows Such Incident Won’t Happen Again

Speaking further, the Commander regretted that seven personnel were killed during Operation Nut Cracker II, carried out in Kamfanin Bobi, Mariga Local Government Area of Niger State where nine bandits were killed.

While reiterated the resolve of the command to ensure safety, the Commander said: “I want to assure you that we will continue to do our best to ensure the safety of all law-abiding citizens of this great nation.

“I urge all law-abiding citizens not to be intimidated by these criminals in providing actionable intelligence that will help the command to rid these troubled areas of bandits, terrorists, and their collaborators.”

Military Arrests Late Gana’s Commander In Benue

The suspect

 

The military authorities have arrested Kamaor Fachii, the commander of the late dreaded bandit, Terwase Akwaza “Gana”.

Fachii was arrested by the men of the Four Special Forces Command, Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa at Katsina-Ala where he was said to be hiding at his girlfriend’s residence.

Parading the suspect, the Commander, Four Special Forces Command, Doma Moundhey Ali Gadzama, assured that the military will continue to be on the trail of other gang members until they are all arrested.

He said that Fachii is the 76th member of the gang apprehended by the military.

Four others, including Gana, have been killed in an operation by the military.

This comes five weeks after Gana was killed by the Special Forces.

According to Major General Gadzama, the ex-Benue militia leader was intercepted on September 8 following a gun duel with the military personnel.

READ ALSO: Wanted Militia Leader Gana Killed, Says Military

Following Gana’s death, there has been tension in Benue State with prominent personalities including Governor Samuel Ortom and ex-governor Gabriel Suswam accusing the military authorities of killing him when trying to embrace amnesty offered by the state government.

In 2015, Gana was offered an amnesty but returned to his alleged criminal activities.

In 2017, the Nigerian police declared Gana wanted after he was alleged to have killed “several innocent persons”.

The Benue State Government, at the time, placed a N10 million naira bounty on him.

In an exclusive interview with Channels Television in 2016, Gana had denied any involvement in the killing of Mr. Denen Igbana, a security aide to Governor Samuel Ortom.

Gana’s Death: Ortom Asks Military To Release 40 Suspects, Confiscated Official Vehicles

A file photo of Benue state Governor Samuel Ortom
A file photo of Benue state Governor Samuel Ortom

 

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has asked the military to release about 40 other militias said to be in custody.

Briefing journalists after a five-hour security meeting at the Government House Makurdi on Friday, Governor Ortom also called for the release of some official vehicles purportedly confiscated by the military authorities.

The governor explained that the call for the release of the repentant militias is necessary to enable them to embrace the amnesty programme of the state government.

“It is the resolve of this meeting, the expanded State Security Council meeting, that the repentant youths who were arrested by the military should be released so that they will continue from where they were coming to receive their amnesty and they were arrested.

“Also items that were confiscated, we are also appealing to the military to return them. Some of those vehicles were hired, some are official vehicles to our government officials. Some other things are documents. We appeal that all these be returned to us,” he said.

READ ALSO: Wanted Militia Leader Gana Killed, Says Military

Reacting to the death of the state’s ‘most wanted criminal,’ Terwase Akwaza, alias Gana, Governor Ortom said the Sankara people and the state is pained by the development.

He however noted that nothing can be done to bring back the dead to life, calling on the people of the state to cooperate with the security agencies particularly the military.

While seeking more clarification on the true incident that transpired leading to Gana’s death, Ortom said the state government will continue to engage the military rather than being confrontational.

“We are going to find out the truth of what happened. That is what the entire stakeholders here are demanding to know because from the press statement and information to us gives us a cause to worry.

“We have resolved to move on and continue to interphase with the military and other security agencies to ensure that this kind of ugly incident does not happen again,” he said.

Gana was killed on September 8 in what military authorities described as a firefight.

But Governor Ortom said soldiers snatched Gana from a government convoy of repentant militants in Gboko.

Suswam Accuses Military Of Killing Militia Leader Gana ‘Gestapo-Style’, Demands Investigation

This combination photo shows former Benue Governor Gabriel Suswam and militia leader Gana who was killed by the military on Tuesday.

 

Immediate past governor of Benue State and serving Senator Gabriel Suswam has called for an investigation into the killing of Terwase Agwaza alias Gana, after criticising the circumstances that led to the wanted militia leader’s end.

Suswam, who represents Benue North Senatorial District, made the call a day after the military announced that it killed the militia leader who had been wanted for years in a firefight.

“Even war criminals captured alive are entitled to certain rights,” he said in a statement titled ‘A Time to Heal’.

“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”.

READ ALSO: Wanted Militia Leader Gana Killed

Suswam’s comments on the killing are similar to those of Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom who accused the military of bungling a plan aimed at bringing about peace and putting the security of the state in jeopardy.

He confirmed that Gana, a militia leader who had evaded authorities for years, had come out of his hideout on Tuesday as part of an amnesty programme by the Benue government.

He said, “The Benue State Government along with the security agencies have long desired for a return to normalcy, peace, prosperity, and security of the area.

“We have all been in agreement that the continuous existence and activities of gangs are an ill wind that blows no one any good. That is why some leaders were mandated to reach out to these outlaws to persuade them to drop their arms and channel their energies towards the rebuilding of our thoroughly battered community.

“We were all excited to see the dreaded Gana come out of hiding to the warm embrace of our Traditional 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 publicity renounce a life of crime. Our reverred King extracted a pledge from him never to turn his kingdom into a wasteland.”

Pictures which emerged from the meeting between Gana and local authorities on Tuesday before he was killed, showed the militia leader, all smiles, standing with a traditional ruler.

Suswam in his statement said those at the forum “heaved a great sigh of relief with the thought that finally, a life full of uncertainty has come to an end”.

But he is now concerned about the future in his Senatorial district where he said Gana had been a source of terror and warned extrajudicial killings can only lead to more trouble.

He said, “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 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.”

 

Suswam’s statement

A Time to Heal

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 surrendered 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. 

It is no secret that my senatorial district has been traumatized and the people terrorized by activities of criminal gangs led by MR Terwase Agwaza alias Gana for many years. The consequences of this endless terrorism has been a steady decline of economic and social activities leaving a once prosperous people pauperized. Markets no longer attract traders, schools are closed and farmlands abandoned. Politics in the area has become war with an uncontrolled proliferation of dangerous weapons. 

No responsible leader will idly standby and watch his community become a theatre of war and a gangster’s paradise.  It is with this solution mindset that traditional rulers, clergymen and elders of the area decided to utilize means of constructive engagement and dialogue to ensure that youths of the area do not become tools for the destruction of that society.  

The Benue State Government along with the security agencies have long desired for a return to normalcy,  peace, prosperity and security of the area.  We have all been in agreement that the continuous existence and activities of gangs is an ill wind that blows no one any good.  That is why some leaders were mandated to reach out to these outlaws to persuade them to drop their arms and channel their energies towards the rebuilding of our thoroughly battered community. 

We were all excited to see the dreaded Gana come out of hiding to the warm embrace of our Traditional 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 publicity renounce a life of crime. Our reverred  King extracted a pledge from him never to turn his kingdom into a wasteland. 

Those present at this forum heaved a great sigh of relief with the thought that finally, a life full of uncertainty has come to and end. 

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 allegedly armed soldiers and he 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 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. 

It is unfortunate that this event has escalated tensions in the area and that is why I am using this opportunity to plead with all elders and community leaders to rein in their youths and avoid a deterioration of an already bad situation. 

This is a time to heal and not war. This is a time to hold each other to our common values as human beings. This is a time to rebuild our fractured society. This is a time to rally together as brothers and say Enough is Enough. 

Senator Gabriel Suswam, C.O.N

 

 

Police Deny Killing Benue Militia Leader, Ghana

Wanted militia leader Terwase Akwaza, popularly known as Ghana, has not been killed by the police, contrary to reports that he has met his doom, the Benue State Police Command said on Thursday.

The notorious militia leader was reportedly killed days back when a special police team stormed his group’s hideout along the Benue-Taraba border.

While a shootout occurred between the police and members of Akwaza’s gang, the elusive militia leader got away.

The Commissioner of Police in Benue State, Bashir Makama, told Channels Television that Akwaza escaped from the police team when his gang spotted the team and opened fire.

Benue State Police Commissioner Bashir Makama

In the ensuing shootout, one Danladi Awudu who had set up a checkpoint to protect Akwaza was killed.

Afterwards, the police recovered more than 100 live ammunitions and weapons from the scene.

“Ghana is still alive and as I speak to you right now, there is an ongoing operation to capture him. I am supposed to be in Abuja, but because of this operation, I had to wait and monitor it,” the police commissioner said.

He added, “Three days ago. we almost got him when we recovered those weapons and the corpse of Danladi Awudu who opened fire on my men.”

The police declared Akwaza wanted in April this year and announced a N10m reward for information leading to his capture.

Although he has yet to be captured, the police believe they are closing in on him and have depleted the resources available to him as well as his camps.

The police have also focused on combing the Takum/Wukari axis of the Taraba and Benue boundary for his hideouts.

Speaking on the latest encounter with the militia leader, the police commissioner said, “This (latest) search was between the Benue and Taraba state boundary, particularly in Takum and Wukari where he took refuge, but the typical Ghana we know, mounted several guards.

“When we encountered the last guard who opened fire on my men, he fled the scene and we recovered a lot of his personal effects including his retroviral drugs which he could not even escape with, but we are not relenting and we will not allow criminals to take over this command.”