By Okanga Agila
The country has been awash with tales on how the Nigerian Army killed the dreaded militia leader in Benue state Terwase Akwaza ( Gana). It has indeed been a sad commentary as some highly placed individuals within the Benue-Taraba axis have been making futile attempts at glorifying the late Gana, while vilifying the Nigerian Army despite the avalanche of crimes against humanity hanging on his neck
I used the word glorify and vilify because it is indeed an anomaly for any right-thinking human being to question the end of the error called Gana. I have wondered in my closet if Nigeria has indeed degenerated to a level where inanities are glorified, and acts of patriotism are criticized, demonized and denigrated. This is the case with the death of one individual who would go down memory lane as the worst deceit that has come out of Nigeria in recent times.
As a first, since the return of democracy in Nigeria in 1999, there has been an upsurge of activities of militant groups all struggling for relevance in the scheme of things. It also ushered in all kinds of ethnic warlords and generals without barracks who only turn their guns against the innocent poor masses. We have had them in the northeast in the form of Boko Haram. In the North West in the form of bandits’ lord and other parts of Nigeria.
This was the starkness of the reality on the ground. The likes of Gana also evolved from the era and reigned supreme because they carved a niche for themselves as political thugs willing to do and undo for the right price. We must also admit that indeed it was common knowledge that election periods are usually a money-making time for those with the capacity to snatch ballot boxes, and those with the capacity to intimidate and harass political opponents.
But there was something about the Gana episode in Benue state. Aside from the fact that he was a willing pawn for politicians in the state, he also smartly carved political and economic relevance around his operations by setting up a group of daredevil young boys ready to kill with little or no provocation.
Gana was such a smart chap that ensured that he reigned supreme in the Benue-Taraba axis. What most people didn’t know was the fact that Gana was a Fulani herdsman, a Tiv farmer, a Muslim as well as a Christian. He switched skin effortlessly depending on the assignment at hand. Today he could orchestrate an attack on farmers and the blame would go to the Fulani herdsmen. The next day he could also stage reprisal attack on Fulani herdsmen, and the blame would go to the farmers.
He would also orchestrate attacks against Christian communities, and the blame would go to the Muslim communities and vice versa. That was how dexterous Gana was during his lifetime and was mostly responsible for the unrest in parts of North Central consisting of Benue, Plateau, Taraba and Nasarawa states. Gana indeed fooled every one of us. He set us up against ourselves and our brothers. He gave us the wrong cause to be worried about. And even in death, some of his patrons want to continue in the same fashion in the foolery with the allegations that Gana was killed extrajudicially.
I am sure that Nigerians would be shocked when they realized that Gana made all of us believed that herdsmen were responsible for the killings which he was supervising on behalf of his clients. His modus operandi was so deft that he leaves no trail behind. But all of these could not have lasted forever because the security agencies were on his track. I believe he knew this much before he opted for an amnesty deal with the state government.
I have my reservations about the amnesty deal with the Benue state government. Given what we know about Gana and his network, I won’t be shocked if the amnesty deal is a creation of Gana as a means of evading justice for the crime he has committed against humanity. There is that possibility because Gana indeed was very smart and of many parts that succeeded in manipulating the political class in these states for the fact that he at one point or the other had executed “job” for both sides of the divide.
If that is not the case, I wonder why some politicians would attempt to downplay the atrocities committed by Gana and instead of commending the Nigerian Army for ending an era of deceit, sorrow, tears and blood it instead spearheaded a campaign of calumny against the Nigerian Army and a celebration of life for a militia leader who was an error by all ramification and a disgrace to humanity.
It could also be that Gana was being ferried from his enclave to a new abode where he would get the much-needed protection as his days were numbered with the security agencies constantly on his trail. In some quarters, it was speculated that Gana begged the traditional rulers to take him to his governor that he could surrender to escape justice. Whatever is the case, the fact remains that Gana’s time was up, and there was nothing he and his patrons could do.
Even with the various eye witness accounts that stated that when troops encountered his convoy, he made spirited attempts to manoeuvre including engaging the troops in a shootout and attempting to disappear afterwards. But the bullets were faster than him this time.
I think at this point, we must not mourn Gana but our foolishness that an illiterate could use all of us and even in death we want to be singing his praises despite his atrocities. At this point, I think something is fundamentally wrong with the political class in Benue state and all those that have attempted to sing the praises of Gana to high heavens over one shadowy amnesty deal.
Okanga is a traditional warrior and wrote from Agila.