From ROSE EJEMBI, Makurdi.
JUST AS insinuations were rife that he had been declared wanted in connection with the killing of the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Samuel Ortom on Special Security, militant leader, Terwase Akwaza, popularly known as Gana has said that he had no hand in the said killing. He insists he is a changed man.
Gana, who for more than 15 years had assumed the status of a warlord in Benue and neighbouring Taraba states was feared in the similitude of the late notorious armed robber, Lawrence Anini, Monday Osunbor, as he waged war against Fulani herdsmen, the Kuteb and the Jukun who fought against his Tiv kinsmen for control of farmlands.
The bubble burst on 20th of May this year as Gana was fingered in the gruesome murder of the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Special Security, Denen Igbana.
When the governor visited the following morning to condole the bereaved family, a head of vigilante group in the area had told Governor Ortom that when his security aide was being pursued and shot at by the gunmen, he mentioned the name of Gana as his killer saying, “Gana why do you want to kill me. Gana what have I done to you that you want to kill me?”
On hearing that, the Governor who wept at the news of the death of his close aide said a part of him had been killed and vowed to fish out the killers. Since then, nothing had been heard from Gana despite the fact that one of Ortom’s Special Advisers, Joe Ikyaagba (Special Duties) is being remanded in prison custody over Denen’s killing.
For the first time since the incident, Gana decided to cry out from his hideout in a telephone interview with Saturday Sun saying he had no hands in the killing of Denen. Excerpts:
Where were you when the late Denen Igbana was killed because the allegation was that you led some group of people to kill him?
I’m not a spirit to be in Makurdi and my village Gbishe at the same time. I was with the security men (eight Civil Defence operatives) the government attached to me who look after me day and night after I accepted the amnesty programme. These NSCDC operatives watch over my activities and can confirm that all of us were at Gbishe at the time the allegation was made. Don’t forget I have embraced the amnesty programme whole-heartedly.
What did you do when you heard of Denen’s brutal killing as someone who was your boss?
When I heard of his killing and because I was working closely with him, I drove straight to Government House, Makurdi and condoled with Governor Samuel Ortom over the loss because he (Denen) was my immediate boss also and I have nothing to fear because I had no hands in his death. I pledged to assist security agencies to fish out those who killed Denen too, and revealed part of my findings to Governor Samuel Ortom.
I was however surprised to hear people say in the national dailies that I’m wanted for the death of Denen. So, I ask myself how can I be wanted because government gave me security and they ought to have contacted me and know where I was at that time?
But have you been invited for questioning since the death of Denen?
Since his killing I have not been contacted by anybody. I only read in the papers that I’m wanted. The security agencies and government can invite me to see them any time and I will honour the invitation. In this case nobody and I said no security agency has called me to come and I refused. Some people are speculating that I’m at large but it’s not true. I’m always in Katsina-Ala and I will not run because I’m not responsible for Igbana Denen’s death. There is also a new twist people have been calling me of recent to inform me that they have engaged the Army, Airforce, SSS and other security agencies to invade my village and kill me.
Who called you and do you believe such information? Why would anybody want you killed? Kill you for what?
Yes I believe because before the amnesty programme of the present administration, several attempts were made on my life using soldiers from 72 Battalion and that of Takum battalion who invaded my village in Gbishe. That was a known fact to everyone. It is therefore for this reason that I believe some of the information.
Do you think the governor is aware of all these?
I don’t think the governor is aware of such evil plan against me and if there is anyone that can believe that I did not kill Denen, that person is the governor because he knows I cannot do such a thing. Why would I have killed him? I embraced his amnesty programme whole-heartedly and I’m now born again. My old ways have gone for good. The governor has done so much for me and I can’t betray his trust.
What has he (governor) done for you?
He gave me freedom. You will not know what is freedom until you find yourself in my position leaving in the bush. He also gave me security and protection including a means of livelihood. I’m involved in produce activities in Benue north east. He has also seen my commitment to the goals of the amnesty progarmme in Benue state so how can I turn around to injure his feeling when he has done all of these for me?