It’s almost two weeks after the reported killing of Terwaza Akwaza, popularly known as Gana, by soldiers but the atmosphere in Sankera area of Benue State remains tranquil.
Gana, a wanted outlaw for several years, was on his way to receive amnesty at the Government House Makurdi on Tuesday September 8, 2020 when he was felled by the military near Yandev Junction in Gboko.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that the serenity in the area had been contrary to earlier apprehension from many quarters over likely outbreak of violence protest in the areas, following the swift extermination of the deceased.
Residents of the Sankera axis comprising of Logo, Katsina-Ala and Ukum local government areas were seen going about their normal businesses without any fear of harassment.
But security appeared tightened, maybe to avert any break down of law and order.
A resident in Katsina Ala, who didn’t want his name on print, said the vicinity had remained peaceful since the incident though they were not happy about the killing of Gana by the military who ought to have protected him.
“We (resident) didn’t like the manner Gana was handled by the military. But, no one is causing trouble. People are going about their normal business,” he said.
Another respondent from Logo who mentioned only his first name, Terseer, said that he really felt bad after news broke that Gana was killed, noting that the military acted in haste.
Teseer said that initially fear pervaded his area as there were rumours that the deceased’s ‘boys’ would fight back and make the vicinity uninhabitable for law abiding citizens.
He added, “Days have passed and our area has remained calm.
“I pray that the peace we now enjoy remains.
“We should promote peaceful coexistence so that we can have a land to bequeath to our generation unborn.”
Similarly, a Special Assistant on Media to Chairman of Ukum LGA, Timothy Vihimga, told our correspondent that Sankera area has remained calm after the killing of Gana.
“There are no problems at all. The entire Sankera axis is calm as at today,” he posited.
Confirming the calm mood of the area, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Catherine Anene, said there hadn’t been any disturbances in the area after Gana’s death and the command deployed more operatives to contain any eventuality.
Despite fears expressed by some residents, normal activities were going on, markets were opened, and vehicles plied the roads amid visible presence of beefed-up security.
Just like other stakeholders of the Sankera Bloc comprising three LGAs, a community leader in Logo, Chief Joseph Anawah, who holds the view that the killing of Gana by the Nigerian army was wrong, said he was not happy over the development, especially the fact that some of Gana’s boys who were picked with him by the military cannot be traced.
“We don’t know where the boys are,” he said.
The community leader in an earlier interview had said, “Gana’s killing was very bad and we the Sankera stakeholders are not happy.
“This kind of killing amounts to extra judicial exercise.
“They eliminated him in a very wrong way.
“They’ve created more problems for us.”
Anawah, who described the handling of Gana as very different from how other repentant outlaws across the country were treated, worried that some of the deceased militia kingpin’s boys, who retreated after his arrest, might regroup for further trouble.
“What guarantee can the military give us that these boys will not come back after us?” he asked.
In the same vein, Gerald has expressed anxiety over ‘uncertainty’ in the event the remnants of the outlaws regroup to avenge the killing of their leader as he stressed that the military ought not to have killed Gana in the first place.
Gerald emphasized that the killing of the repentant militia kingpin who had surrendered himself to embrace peace and the amnesty programme organised by the Benue State government leaves a bad taste in the mouth, especially for those of them residing in the affected area.
While he noted the many atrocities of the late Gana could not be justified, there were yet examples of repentant bandits in the country’s troubled areas who were pardoned after they turned themselves in for amnesty.
“Why is the case of Gana different?
“I sincerely don’t like the killing of Gana because he willingly surrendered himself and was prepared to work for God as his wife allegedly claimed.
“He wanted to be a free man, to be at peace with government and security agencies and to fight insecurity as well as live a good life but what did he get?
“He was killed,” Gerald added.
Meanwhile, to ensure peace continues to prevail in the Sankera axis, the Tiv Supreme Council (Ijirtamen) arising from its meeting within the week, called on the Tiv nation, particularly the people of Sankera, not to take laws into their hands by avenging the killing of Gana by the military.
In a communique signed by the Secretary of Tiv Area Traditional Council, Shinyi Tyozua, after an emergency meeting held at the Tor Tiv’s palace in Gboko and presided over by the Tor Tiv and Chairman of Tiv Area Traditional Council, Prof James Ayatse, the council called for restraint.
The council lauded the initiative by Sankera leaders who fronted Gana’s outing, aimed at restoring permanent peace in the ravaged area but allegedly frustrated by the unexpected death of their son and other youths, emphasizing that it was taking appropriate steps to address the matter in a very matured manner due to its delicate nature.
“The Tiv Supreme Council on behalf of the Tiv nation appeals to traditional rulers, political and religious leaders to continue to caution the youths against the dire consequences of taking to criminal activities in the land.
“It equally condoled Governor Samuel Ortom over the death of many other innocent youths who were arrested during the raid and their whereabouts remain uncertain, calling for their release and deployment of more security agents to provide security in Sankera axis to forestall any break down of law and order that can possibly erupt following the death of Terwase Akwaza,” the communique stated.
Also, during the week, the troops of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) neutralized some armed bandits, arrested suspected militias and recovered arms and ammunition in its three states of operation Nasarawa, Taraba and Benue where two of the Gana boys were gunned down.
Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, had in a statement, said the troops of OPWS recorded the tremendous successes against criminal elements following credible intelligence.
He stated that the actionable intelligence on the possible hideout of remnants of late Gana’s militia elements around Adu general area in Chanchanji council ward of Takum LGA of Taraba State, troops of Sector 2 deployed at Gbise in Katsina Ala Local Government Area of Benue State in conjunction with troops of Sector 4 conducted a joint dawn raid operation on the identified hideout at Adu.
Enenche added that during the operation, troops had contact with the armed militias who fired at troops as they closed in on their position.
He said the troops swiftly responded with superior fire, forcing the bandits to flee the camp in disarray into the surrounding forest.
And that while the encounter lasted, two armed militias were neutralized and two locally made pistols recovered from them.
On the other hand, the state government and leaders from the axis are not relenting in their efforts to maintain peace in the area, hitherto ravaged by the deceased gangster and his men.
Governor Samuel Ortom had also severally appealed for calm in the area as he cautioned people in the axis not to take laws into their hands while his administration engages the military in dialogue over the development as well as the release of some of the repentant militia still held captive by the military.