By Naomi Sharang
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Power Gabriel Suswam has called for setting up of an independent judicial commission of inquiry to unravel facts on the killing of repentant militia leader in Benue, Terwase Agwaza, also known as Gana, by men of the Nigerian Army in Gboko.
Suswam, who represents Benue North East, in a statement he issued in Abuja on Wednesday, said Terwase’s killing after turning a new leaf from crime and criminality by soldiers was counterproductive to peace already returning to the state.
According to him, a situation where a criminal has surrendered for a new way of life after persuasion from elders and leaders in the community and later killed by some state actors endangers the healing process as “this is time to heal and not to kill.”
The statement reads “The events of Sept. 8, 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 traumatised and the people terrorised by activities of criminal gangs led by Mr Terwase Agwaza, alias Gana, for many years.
“The consequence of this endless terrorism has been a steady decline of economic and social activities leaving a once prosperous people pauperised.
“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 utilise means of constructive engagement and dialogue to ensure that the youth of the area do not become tools for the destruction of that society.
“The Benue Government along with the security agencies have long desired for a return to normalcy, peace, prosperity and security of the area.
“We were all excited to see the dreaded Gana come out of hiding to the warm embrace of our Traditional Rulers, Clerics 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 wasteland.”
Suswam further said that “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 was isolated and taken away.”
“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.
“An independent judicial commission of inquiry will unravel facts of the matter to serve as lessons for the future.