There were jubilation in several parts of Benue State following the reported killing of Terwase Akwaza known as Gana.
Gana who terrorised several communities in Benue State was reported to have been killed by soldiers on Tuesday, September 8, three years after Governor Samuel Ortom-led government placed a N10 million bounty on information that could lead to his arrest and capture.
Commander of the Four Special Forces Command of the Nigerian Army in Doma local government area of Nasarawa state, Brigadier-General Maude Ali Gadzama, who confirmed the killing said :there was an engagement with the convoy of Gana, a shoot out ensued and the bandit was killed.”
Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom further explained that Gana was killed during a crossfire with the Nigerian Army and was awaiting full briefing by the head of the military operations .
The crime kingpin has been declared wanted for over three years.
Our reporters in parts of Benue affected by the criminal activities of Gana reported that many have been jubilating since it was announced that that the criminal kingpin has been killed.
There were reports of wild jubilation in Ukum, Logo, Gboko, Tarka and Makurdi among other places immediately news of his naturalisation went round.
Gana’s criminal activities had affected virtually all sectors of the economy in Benue including farming and agriculture, road transportation, trading, and general night life.
He had in 2015, flouted an earlier amnesty condition given him by the Benue state government after he surrendered arms only for him to withdraw to his hideouts from where he resumed his attacks on communities.
Gana is believed to be behind the security problems in Benue state for several years engaging in allaged kidnapping, armed robbery, assassinations, gun running and other criminal activities
He admitted in a television interview at a time, that he colluded with rampaging herdsmen to organise attacks on communities.
Many Benue communities have suffered from such attacks often described as farmers/ herders clash.
He was quoted as saying that he turned down an offer running into millions of naira because the attackers could not raise the amount he demanded.
Residents of Zaki- Biam say they can now live their normal lives without fear of being attacked by armed men as they are now sure that the man behind most of the attacks has been silenced.
A trader at the Zaki- Biam yam market, George Terver, said he received the news with gladness because he always travels on the Zaki-Biam – Gboko- Makurdi road with goods and cash after sales .
“Whenever we are travelling to Jalingo, Makurdi and other places, we use to fear a lot because some of these people can attack on the road and one can lose his all property,” he said.
He commended the security agencies for their prompt intervention which is yielding results.
A farmer in Adikpo, Kwande LGA , who gave his name as Mbayoon Terhide , said Gana has succeeded in creating fear among residents just because of his selfish desire.
He said people remember the late kingpin for only the negative things hence are happy that he has been silenced.
“If not working as a thug for politicians he is said to be the one leading herdsmen to attack communities. So why shouldn’t we be happy that he can no longer harass us?” he asked.
Other residents of Markurdi said the controversy over his death is needless as the most important thing is that he can no longer continue his criminal activities.
“Some people are saying that he wanted amnesty before he was killed but those people did not remember that he once did not honour an amnesty agreement. So how are we sure he will honur this one?” a businessman in Makurdi asked.
Analysts posit that the naturalisation of Gana would serve as a deterrent to other criminal elements operating in the state and discourage youths from taking to crime as they would see that it does not pay.
An expert who does not want to be mentioned said it is not unusual for people to be celebrating the death of criminals as they see it as representing an ugly aspect of their lives that they want forgotten.”
He said Gana was “trying to glamourise crime and this is a very dangerous dimension because if he had succeeded in doing that he would have convinced the teeming number of impressionable youths that that is the way to go,” he stated.
Some of thr comments that greeted news of his killing on social media monitored by our reporters include:
“Gana remained most wanted, slain blood sucker and murderer in the entire middle belt. Those tivs people whose relatives suffered the criminalities of Gana wouldn’t have shielded him as you did. “Only heartless person can support this killer. If his so called repentance is worth of freeing him, ortom shouldn’t accepted him in secrecy he should had informed military and made him surrendered before them just like the case of repentant boko Haram. But for hypocrisy the governor drove the criminal in his convoy.”
Another said, “This should be treated as the best news after killing of Boko Haram because there was no difference between him and the terrorists.”
While another said: “The people of Benue can now sleep with their two eyes closed.”