More facts emerged on Wednesday, about how fugitive militia leader in Benue State, Terwase Akwaza, popularly known as Gana, was killed by the military on Tuesday, after embracing amnesty.
A community leader, who confided with correspondents in Makurdi, the state capital, said Gana was in a government convoy when he was dragged out of a car by soldiers at a checkpoint in Gbitse, near Yandev roundabout in the Gboko Local Government Area of the state.
The community leader said the militia leader was thrown into a military vehicle and driven away.
The Commander of Operation Ayem A Kpatuma, Major General Ali Gadzama, had on Tuesday told Channels Television that Gana was killed in a gunbattle with soldiers.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that the militia leader had between 11am and 2pm, on Tuesday, at the Katsina-Ala Stadium, in the presence of prominent indigenes of the Sankera District of the state, including the First Class Chief of the area, His Royal Highness, Abu Shuluwa, embraced amnesty.
The Sankera zone consisting of Logo, Katsina-Ala and Ukum Local Government Areas, has been the worst hit by the activities of Gana and his cohorts since 2009.
The militia leader and others had in the state Government House in 2015, surrendered no fewer than 200 guns including AK-47 rifles.
However, the peace move was thwarted after the killing of the Senior Special Assistant to the state Governor on Security, Denen Igbane, in 2016. After the incident, the militia leader went back to the bush.
The community leader, who confided in The PUNCH, said the latest peace move efforts were initiated by some prominent indigenes, who urged Gana to drop arms and embrace peace.
The source said: “He (Gana) actually came out because of the assurance given by the prominent indigenes and traditional rulers and he was not armed when he was dragged out of the car and taken away to be killed.
“The militia leader sat in-between the Chairman of the Katsina-Ala Local Government Area, Alfred Atera, and a priest in one of the cars in the government convoy.”
According to the source, the convoy was stopped by soldiers at a checkpoint in Gbitse on its way to Makurdi.
He said: “As soon as we got to the military checkpoint, some soldiers who spotted Gana had to pull down the priest, drag Gana into their waiting vehicle and zoom off.”
Meanwhile, there were fears in the Sankera zone on Wednesday, as residents thought that members of Gana’s gang could carry out attacks on the area.
A trader in Katsina-Ala, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “We heard that many of the repentant militias who saw what happened along the road turned back and they might likely return to the trenches.
“These people may see it as betrayal and want to unleash terror on the people in this area.”
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, in an interview with journalists at the Government House, Makurdi, on Wednesday, stated that he was still awaiting briefing from the commander of Operation Ayem A Kpatuma.
Ortom, when asked whether the amnesty programme had not been thwarted by the killing of Gana, said that the programme was not truncated as those who could not get to Makurdi due to the confusion created by the military operation would be given another chance.
He urged the people of Sankera to remain calm as he was still investigating circumstances surrounding the arrest and killing of Gana.
The governor said: “Shortly after we left yesterday night, there was a press statement issued by the special force, that is Operation Ayem A Kpatuma, in Doma, Nasarawa State.
“I reached out to the commander of the force and told him that I was surprised and needed an explanation.
“He assured me that he would come and brief me, but I must say that I am surprised by what happened. I do not want to take issue with the military but I have a duty to protect the lives of the people.”