Controversy has continued to trail the killing of Tewarse Akwaza popularly known as Gana by military operatives who intercepted him and some members of his gang on their way to Makurdi to surrender to the government on Tuesday.
The Commander, 4 Special Forces Command, Doma, Nasarawa State, Maj. Gen. Moundhey Ali, who confirmed the killing of the wanted Gana told NAN that the late Gana was killed in a “shootout” with military operatives.
“About 12:00 hours on Tuesday, we received strategic information on the movement of the dreaded bandit Terwase Akwaza Agbadu AKA Gana along Gbese-Gboko-Makurdi road.
“Troops of Operation ‘Ayem Akpatuma III’ moved swiftly and mounted roadblocks along the routes
“At about 13:00 hours, there was an engagement with the convoy of Gana, a shootout ensued and the bandit was killed.”
However, the governor of Benue State, Mr. Samuel Ortom said that he was taken aback by the action of the Nigerian Army whom the governor said was aware of the amnesty granted to Gana and his subsequent surrender.
Ortom who berated the extra-judicial killing of the repented criminal said that even in war, the law always protected those who surrender.
“We are aware that even in the military when people come out to surrender even in war time they are protected by the law,” bewildered governor Ortom said.
Narrating what happened, the Benue governor said that Gana could not have engaged the Army in a gun battle because even the military was aware of the amnesty programme and the scheduled surrender event in Markudi.
Ortom explained that the late Gana was going to Markurdi in company with a local government Chairman who obviously was going to hand him over to appropriate authorities, but the Army rather arrested him and even took away the official vehicle of the local government Chairman.
Governor Ortom said:
“Gana who was coming along with the Chairman of a local government was intercepted and taken away and including the official car of the local government Chairman. Several other repented criminals were also taken away from their vehicles.
“The security agencies are aware of what we are doing here, it is not a hidden thing.
“It was around 4pm when we were waiting for the repentant militias that I received a call that Gana and others have been arrested close to Yandev roundabout in Gboko by soldiers,” he said.
“Many of the repentant militias had weapons in which they were bringing to surrender to us. The process of the amnesty programme was known to the security operatives, so I don’t know why they have to be arrested.
“Immediately I got the information, I contacted the commander of Operation Whirl Stroke, General Yekini, who told me that they were carrying out an operation and promised to get back to me, so I am still waiting for him.”
Also reacting to the killing, Human Rights activist and former lawmaker, Senator Shehu Sani in a tweet on Wednesday queried how a surrendered criminal will be killed without trial. The fiery former lawmaker said such act as exhibited by the Nigeria Army was capable of dissuading other criminals from surrendering to the state.
“To ‘kill’ a person who ‘surrendered’ would discourage others from surrendering,” Sani wrote.
The founder of the Boko Haram sect, Mohammed Yusuf was killed in similar circumstances on July 10, 2009 in Maiduguri,Borno state and ever since Nigeria government have been in a war against the sect with hundreds of casualties suffered by Nigeria armed forces and millions of civilians displaced.