New facts have emerged on the circumstances that led to the death of Terwase Akwaza (Gana) the notorious militia leader that terrorized Benue state and environs for several years.
According to information gathered from reliable sources, Gana died when members of his gang attempted to release him forcefully from the captivity of troops of Operation Ayem Akpatuma III who intercepted his convoy near Yandev roundabout in Makurdi-Gboko road on his way to Makurdi to accept a special amnesty programme initiated by the Benue State government.
It was reliably gathered that Gana and his gang members in the convoy bore large cache of arms which they intend to surrender as part of the amnesty deal. However, the gang members acted overzealously, and this eventually led to the death of their gang leader in the ensuing melee.
An eye witness, Fidelis Yandev stated that Gana was not ready to surrender when the soldiers accosted him; instead, he bragged about his powers and threatened to unleash terror should the troops not give him clearance to proceed.
“It all started as a joke. Very early in the morning, we noticed the presence of soldiers in our area conducting stop and search. We didn’t know what was happening, but I noticed that one of the commanders gave instructions to the soldiers not to harass people but concentrate on the task at hand.”
“It was later in the afternoon that we saw a large entourage of cars approaching the Yandev roundabout which was mounted by soldiers. We thought it was a political convoy, but to our surprise, we saw young men brandishing weapons and singing on top of their voices. There was pandemonium and villagers scampered to safety. It was at that point the soldiers stopped the convoy and asked for identification.”
“Gana came out from one of the vehicles and started shouting on top of his voice that he was Terwase Akwaza and that he should be allowed to proceed that the governor was waiting for him. All of a sudden there was reinforcement from soldiers around the community who seized Gana and led him to their patrol van stationed across the road while the rest of the convoy was allowed to proceed.”
The source further added that pandemonium broke out when some members of Gana’s gang suddenly fired shots into the air in an attempt to free their leader.
“The soldiers were taken unaware when gunshots rented the air. It was at this point that Gana attempted to snatch the rifle of one of the soldiers, whom he wrestled to the floor, and the next thing we heard were sporadic gunshots.”
Another eye witness stated that Gana indeed snatched a riffle and made an attempt to run with his gang members who had made their way past the roundabout before he met his waterloo.
“Gana was shot from behind as he made his way towards his gang members with a rifle belonging to one of the soldiers. Even at that, he put up a fight by returning some gunshots towards the soldiers who had taken cover.”
“ After Gana went down, he raised his hands and spoke in TIV dialect for his boys to stop. It was at the point normalcy returned, and the soldiers dragged him into the van and sped off. By this time the soldiers had called for reinforcement that rounded up about 40 of his boys.”
It was also gathered from one of the community leaders in Yandev that some of Gana’s boys escaped into the community with arms and they made their way into the bush.
“We thought our community was under attack initially until we saw soldiers asking people to lie down. These soldiers were chasing after some boys with arms, and at some point, they stopped and returned to the main road. What happened afterwards we do not know, but I can tell you that for days the whole community was enveloped with fear when news made the rounds that the soldiers had shot Gana.”
He further added that people in the community started packing their belongings and moving to nearby by communities until they were stopped by soldiers who assured us that everything was under control.
“I recall a commander was at the palace of our community leader. What they discussed we do not know, but afterwards calm returned to our community. But what I can tell you is that it was such a scary situation realizing who Gana was and how he has terrorized communities in our area. “
Our reporters also gathered from some highly placed sources in the state that indeed Gana was not going to surrender to the state government but to instigate another round of killings across the state and this time using a seemingly legitimate way to achieve his aim.
“It was glaring that Gana had something up his sleeves that either by omission or commission the state government didn’t realize. Gana had an antecedent of deceit, and that was how he had sustained his activities over the years. So in a way, the amnesty deal was most likely a smokescreen, and I guess his time was up, and nemesis indeed caught up with him.”
“Those alleging extrajudicial killing are just mischievous because of what they stand to benefit, and this is quite sad that such narrative can be pushed in the media by the same people that ought to be relieved that a tangible feat has been achieved towards the restoration of peace in Benue state and environs.”
It was also gathered from some security sources that the death of Gana as a result of bullet wounds sustained was unfortunate as there has been a directive that he should be captured alive by all means.
“What people do not realize is the fact that Gana has been claiming invincibility because the plan has been to capture him alive. There were countless instances where Gana would have been killed by the security agencies in their numerous operations but for the directive. This much Gana knew, and he used it to his advantage.”
“Those not conversant with military operations would not know this because it’s highly confidential and that was why he elected to embrace the amnesty deal which would have given him protection against the law.”
It would be recalled that the Benue state government had accused the Nigerian Military of the extrajudicial killing of Gana on his way to embrace the amnesty deal put in place by the State government.