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

 

 

Power Sector Lacks Coordination – Senate

A file photo of lawmakers in the Senate.

 

The chairman, Senate Committee on power Senator Gabriel Suswam is alarmed at what he describes as the lack of coordination in Nigeria’s power sector.

Senator Suswam who spoke to journalists on the sidelines of a public hearing on the power sector lamented that despite the huge funds pumped into the power sector, there is not much progress in terms of providing sufficient electricity to Nigerians.

He also said that the sector is insolvent as government ministries, departments and agencies are owing electricity distribution companies N98 billion in electricity bills.

Ortom Is Not Behind Suswam’s Arrest – Benue Govt

Ortom                                                                                      Suswam

 

The Benue State Government has denied having anything to do with the arrest of a former governor of the state, Mr Gabriel Suswam, by the Department of State Services.

According to a statement by Mr Terver Akase, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor Samuel Ortom, claims that the arrest was based on a petition by the governor, are false.

“We wish to categorically state that Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom did not write a petition which led to the arrest of former Governor of the State, Gabriel Suswam, contrary to some media reports,” the statement read in part.

An aide to Suswam, who confirmed his arrest, had alleged on Tuesday that he was arrested as a result of a petition by the Governor Ortom.

The government, however, believes the allegation is false and aimed at causing disaffection and creating “a state of confusion” in Benue.

It, however, said that it had written a petition to the DSS against the leaders of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore as a result of the killings in the state.

Since New Year’s Day when suspected herdsmen attacked the state killing 73 persons in what turned out to be the start of a fresh wave of killings in the state, the Governor has blamed the attacks on Miyetti Allah.

The group has strongly opposed the state’s anti-open grazing law and the government says it will not relent until victims of the attacks get justice.

“The Benue State Government has written a petition against leaders of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and has filed a lawsuit against the group. The State Government has evidence to prove that the socio-cultural organisation is responsible for recent attacks and killing of innocent people in the state,” the government said.

“The Ortom administration will not be distracted from its commitment to get justice for victims of mindless attacks on the state.”

Former Benue Gov, Suswam’s Trial To Continue In Abuja

Justice Gabriel Kolawole has ruled that the trial of the former Governor of Benue State, Mr Gabriel Suswam, will continue at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

This followed an agreement by the defence and prosecution counsel that the trial will continue at the FHC.

Earlier, the prosecution had brought an application demanding that the trial be transferred to Benue State, saying the security situation there has been controlled and that there is peace in the state.

But the defence counsel, Mr Taiwo Kawul objected, insisting that there is still crisis in Benue as different factions loyal to Mr Suswam and the incumbent governor, Samuel Ortom are still fighting.

But the prosecutor refused the objection saying he can only move that the trial be continued in Abuja if the defence would make an undertaking that they will not challenge the trial on territorial jurisdiction.

Court dismisses certificate forgery case against Suswam

The Federal High Court in Makurdi, Benue State on Wednesday dismissed a certificate forgery case against the Benue State governor, Gabriel Suswam, by a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Terver Kakih.

The Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam

Mr Kakih, who filed the suit in 2011, had asked the court to disqualify the election of the governor on the grounds that he forged his Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) certificate.

Mr Kakih had alleged that the governor did not submit to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) his SSCE certificate.

He further alleged that the certificate was forged, claiming that the governor also marred the 2011 PDP primaries to influence his win as flag bearer of the party in the state.

Mr Suswam had defeated Mr Kakih to win the PDP ticket to run for governor of Benue State in the April 2011 primaries of the party in the State.
Delivering his judgment which lasted for over three hours, Justice Marcel Awokulehin held that though Mr Kakih had the right to complain of non-level playing ground and non-conduct of ward congresses in the party primaries, it was noteworthy that the issue of non-compliance of election regularities and who the party determined to be the desired candidate in an election was an exclusive party affair.

The judge further held that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

According to Justice Awokulehin, though Mr Kakih had alleged that Suswam forged SSCE certificate and that he had testified before the court that he visited the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) where he met the officer that influenced the forgery, the plaintiff did not remember the name of the officer and also denied that he was not at any point where the forgery was done.

Justice Awokunlehin said that the evidence of the plaintiff was mere hearsay, which he observed, lacked quotative value and could not sway the court to agree with him.

The judge said the plaintiff’s case is like that of a boxer who was given a technical knockout on round zero, describing Mr Khaki’s claims as frivolous, unmeritorious, misconceived and malicious.

Mystery fire razes Benue State governor’s home

The Benue State government has blamed the mysterious fire that completely razed down a multi-million naira Makurdi property belonging to Governor Gabriel Suswam on the opposition.

The fire had started after 1 p.m. on Thursday, completely engulfing one of the massive buildings in the governor’s private estate, located in the Hudco Quarters of the High Level area in Makurdi.

Media Director to the Governor, Mr. James Uloko didn’t have to look far for the culprits, claiming that the “inhuman act” could be connected to opposition party which had recently “threatened to make the state ungovernable, sensing defeat at the election tribunal.’’

According to the Vanguard, however, security guards on duty at the time of the incident reported hearing voices coming from behind the building.

Before the guards could investigate further, a fire canon was thrown into one of the blocks resulting in the huge flame.

State Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ibrahim Mohammed, says police officials are carrying an investigation to find the culprits behind the fire, but said no arrests have been made.