Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Coordinator of the recently disbanded Benue State Livestock Guards, Alhaji Aliyu Tershaku, has accused the Benue State Government of being behind his arrest, stressing that he knew nothing about the allegations against him.
Recall that in April, this year, Tershaku, a Senior Special Assistant to Governor Samuel Ortom on Special Security, was arrested following allegation that he is a Boko Haram member and his alleged involvement in the killing of Benue people by suspected Fulani herdsmen since January this year.
Tershaku on his release, however said his release from detention after seven months of incarceration without evidence is a proof of his innocence of the allegation proffered against him.
But reacting swiftly, the state government has taken a swipe at Tershaku, insisting that it had nothing to do with his arrest neither did it know why he was arrested or released by security agencies.
While noting that all his life, he had always tried to build peace, Tershaku who spoke with our correspondent in company of his Lawyer, Barr. Attah Adokwu of Ai-Attah Chambers called on anyone in Nigeria or outside the country who had any evidence of criminality against him to come out with such evidence.
Tershaku who disclosed that he had been released on administrative bail after seven months of incarceration by a joint security team said all through the period of investigation by the various security agencies, no evidence was found to nail him of the offenses.
He added that since his arrest, he had not visited any part of Benue based on the advice of his counsel, and Governor Ortom and wondered why the Security Adviser would say his release was posing a threat to the state.
“I was really surprised to hear the allegation leveled against me that I masterminded the killings of my Benue people. I was surprised because when I was arrested, I thought it was as a result of allegations leveled against me by Fulani that I was helping to arm Benue people to kill their people.
“But when I was taken to Abuja where I was detained and interrogated, I started hearing that I was arrested in connection with fulani herdsmen killings of my people, the Tiv indigenes and other Benue indigenes. So, it’s a very surprising thing to me to hear that.
“On the day I was arrested at the office of the Security Adviser, he called me to come that governor gave us an assignment. When I got to his office, I asked where we were going and he said I should wait. Within 15 minutes, security men drawn from all the security agencies in the state surrounded the office and I was arrested.
“If the Army and Fulani are saying that I am giving arms to Tiv militias to attack Fulani, why would the Benue people now make another allegation against me that I am also collaborating with Fulani to attack the Tiv people. Which of these allegations are we going to believe?
“But luckily on my arrest, all the investigation has been made by the Nigerian Army Intelligence where I was for four months and then transferred me to the DSS and after all the investigations, no evidence was found against me”, Tarshaku posited.
He urged Benue people not to see his release from the DSS detention as threat but as a proof of his innocence stressing that there is no way he could turn round to hurt the people he had been trying his best to protect.
Meanwhile, Governor Samuel Ortom who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase wondered why Tershaku would blame the state government for his predicament saying all it did was to follow due process and the rule of law by allowing the security agencies investigate him.
“The state government had no hand in his arrest. Governor Ortom is not the commissioner of police, he is not the director of DSS, not the commander of the military. He is not the commander of the civil defence but only supported the security agencies to do their job.
“And as we said at the beginning when Tarshaku was arrested, we said that governor Ortom believe in the rule of law. He believes that if anyone suspected to be culpable, or suspected to have a hand in any crime or any offence, such a person has a right to go and defend himself.
“Tarshaku was taken in by the security agencies and we maintained that stance that the law should take it course.
Remember that when he was arrested, they were accusing the state government of using him to cause problems in the state.
“So, if he is saying that the state government masterminded his arrest, or picked him, can you see the contradiction? But in all of these, Governor Ortom has been exonerated because one, they have not told us why they have arrested him or why he has been released without being charged to court.
“You arrested somebody, the person stayed with you for many months and you don’t try him. Up untill now the governor has not been told why Tershaku was arrested and why he was released without being taken to court,” the governor said.