The Middle- Belt Civil Rights Congress ( MBCRC) has added its voice to the debate on the killing of Benue criminal kingpin, Mr. Terwase Akwaza notoriously known as Gana.
The group said the security agencies were right to have taken the necessary action that could prevent further threats to lives and property.
Gana was said to have been killed while being transported to Makurdi, the Benue State capital,to be granted amnesty by the state governor, Samuel Ortom.
Controversies however surround the circumstances of his death as some allege he was killed after he surrendered his arms while some claim he was killed in an exchange of gun fire.
But the Middle-belt group in a statement said the controversy surrounding the death of Gana is needless as the late criminal gang leader made himself unworthy of any act of leniency under Nigerian laws having breached the terms of such conditions more than once in the past.
The group says the purpose of amnesty is not to bend the law to protect certain persons no matter how height connected but to ensure justice without going through the rigours of trials.
It says in the case of Gana, it was criminal to grant him amnesty a third time having flouted the prerogative in two previous occasions.
President of the Congress, Barrister Maxwell Godwin said anybody that relapses into crime even after conviction and having served the term is not considered worthy of any form of leniency as that person is considered a serial offender.
He said that is why the court is most times only lenient to first time offenders and not people with criminal records.
He said, “I’ve not come across anywhere in the world where a suspect is granted amnesty more than once.
“Once there’s a relapse into the crime for which forgiveness was given, the beneficiary makes himself a recidivist and unworthy of benefitting from such favours in future.”
He said in the case of Gana, it would appear that the political leaders in Benue are trying to bend the laws to the extent that Gana remains perpetually unprosecuted.
“What they were doing with Gana has no backing in law. A person cannot be too powerful to the state that you’re perpetually afraid to prosecute him even when he has demonstrated in words and deeds that he has no respect for such arrangements,” he said.
Godwin said what the Benue State governor was trying to do is a very dangerous dimension that should not be allowed.
“You wave prosecution and granted a man reprieve for his alleged crime, he breaches that; after some time you look for him and extend the same gesture, he abandons it again and goes back to his crime and you’re looking for him again to grant him the same favour of which there is no guarantee that he would honour.”
The group president said precedents are taken very seriously in negotiating conditions for settlement saying Gana by his past conduct has failed in every material way to show that he deserves such favours.
He said, “That is why amnesty usualy comes with a deadline for acceptance.
“It is at the discretion of the authorities to give and not for suspects to propose.
“If however the authorities propose and the suspect accepts, it is left for the authorities to examine the intentions for acceptance and if suspect is found to be incapable of keeping to the terms the authorities may also take the necessary action to avoid further damage on the citizens.”
Godwin said what the security forces have done in the case of Gana is defensible in court as they have the right to take actions that would protect other citizens at any given time.
He added: “Can you imagine the number of people whose lives were put in danger the first and second times that Gana reneged on the amnesty agreement?
“And can you imagine the lives that would be under threat if he again pulls out of another agreement?”
Godwin said what happened to Gana is not extra judicial killing as some people have termed it as he said Gana in agreeing to an amnesty deal in the first and second instances admitted to committing those crimes.
“Extra judicial killings is said to have occurred when a suspect is not availed the opportunity to defend himself in a court of law. But what we have seen in the case of Gana is that twice he has admitted to committing the crime by accepting amnesty and then going back to the crime again.
“He has in the eyes of the law made a statement of defence and when the security agencies saw that he is a character who could not be trusted and could pose further threats to the lives of hundreds of people, they did what was right, as the laws permits the security agencies to bear arms and use it when there’s are such threats.”