By John Manwo 

The incumbent Senator representing Benue North-East Senatorial district in the National Assembly (NASS), Rt.Hon. Dr. Gabriel Torwua Suswam has stopped consternating me as a personality, anywhere in the mould of a leader. I have closely monitored Sen. Suswam in the last few years only to disappointingly discover he is a vicious undertaker of the pernicious breed.  

But some Nigerians are bizarre people. We gleefully chase after worthless leaders in a manner worse than flies will celebrate rotten meat. And to my utter amazement, this is done in a very obsequious and denigrating fashion. The real pandemic with us the people of Sankera, Suswam’s birthplace is that both the youths, adults and the aged indulge in this ingratiating adulation in demeaning condescension to seek for crumbs or special favours.

Therefore, if you stand to condemn it, you are deemed the anti-masses’ tiny and lone voice. And your persistence is only to your peril. Those to attack you most in whatever manner possible are the same people emasculated, abandoned, neglected and confined to a life of penury by the same leader. Nonetheless, some of us would remain undeterred and continue to raise a voice for our voiceless and battered people of Sankera because the expectation to see our people better now and in future. 

I dare to remind the Senator, his acolytes and the people of Sankera again, Suswam has confined us to perpetual servitude! 

On September 8, 2020, something fascinating happened in the area. The backlash from Sen. Suswam, however, particularly smacked off another deliberate gaffe in his avowed determination to dwarf everyone in Sankera to stand as the lone, unchallengeable political and economic “leader” of his kinsmen.

Suswam issued a public statement, following the death of a notorious armed bandit and criminal, Terwase Akwaza Agbadu alias Gana. He met his waterloo during a shootout with troops of the Nigerian Army on a special assignment of Operation Ayem Akpatema III in Benue and its environs to curb incidences of banditry, kidnapping, cultism et al.   

The perceived lapses by unconsecrated minds about the circumstances leading to Gana’s tragic death in the hands of security agents last Tuesday is not of ultimate relevance at this point. But for Suswam to seek to veil the truth and ubiquitously mourn the death of a deadly armed bandit nested by his antics and eventual death as revealed by the contents of his public statement at the expense of his people was what shocked me endlessly.

Let me rehearse what epitomized the life of Gana and as even chanted by Suswam in his odious press statement. While alive Gana and his armed criminal gangs recklessly killed, tormented and terrorized the people of Sankera. His tentacles of criminalities extended from Benue to the neighbouring states of Taraba and Nasarawa for years.

I praise Suswam for recounting that while Gana reigned and massacred his people for years, the economic and social life of the people grounded to a halt; and partisan times became the theatre of wars, with mindless bloodletting spearheaded and perpetrated by the Gana armed gang. It got to preposterous limits where Gana’s boys banned relations of their victims of carnage from burying the dead. 

The once vibrant Sankera crumbled completely. Even our friends elsewhere dreaded and stopped visiting us for fear of being murdered in cold blood. Our people have lived under this horror for years and all previous attempts to arrest Gana were foiled, frustrated or unsuccessful. 

Finally, when security agents got hold of the repulsive criminal, Suswam,  our representative in NASS who folded his arms and watched while we suffered for years with a barrage of afflictions; indignities and lost the little we ever possessed to Gana and his gangs lamented over his death under the vexatious guise of points of flouting the law.   

What I hate so much are pretences. Sen. Suswam’s statement shows he is belatedly pandering to the feelings of his minions or those in his camp who feel touched by Gana’s unexpected death. It certainly cannot reflect the feelings of the generality of people of Sankera. I have not experienced where leaders make open remonstrations for an armed criminal who has caused his people so many pains by merely citing presumed flouted aspects of the law.

It implies Suswam’s concealed yet compelled by circumstances to expose his secret sponsorship of Gana and his armed gangs to unleash years of terror on the people; impoverish them the more by attacking their sources of economic sustenance and render the people pathetically impotent or very feeble in perpetuity. The aim is to continue to manipulate them during partisan times for his selfish agenda and cohorts.

It has unmistakably dawned on me why, despite the enormous economic resources and potentials of Sankera, it has slipped back to the backseat of development and stunted growth among all Tiv lineages. It is now crystal to be the reason, Sen. Suswam as a former two tenured House of Reps member; Benue Governor and now Senator, Sankera area flourishes in bloodshed rather than development. Instead, he has cursed his same people who have continued to bless him.

I least expected, though, that our lives would not matter to him to the extent of publicly proclaiming it to us and the people of Nigeria as reflected in his embarrassing public statement. By doing so in the aftermath of Gana’s death, Suswam undisguisedly told us, he had wished and passed a death sentence on us long ago. Some of the people were deeply engrossed in fantasies not to notice Suswam’s antics.

I state boldly that the lives of our people are worthless to Suswam; so also, the lives of security agents who have borne the risk of death all these years in the pursuit of Gana, with some paying the ultimate price of death. And today, when Gana fell by the same sword he embraced and exercised freely on innocent and law-abiding people, Suswam is empathizing with him publicly.

As if, this nonsensicality is not enough, Sen. Suswam has gone ahead to seek to vilify the esteemed reputation of the Nigerian Army for daring to murder a dangerous armed bandit in a gun battle. The consolation Suswam and cahoots is bandying to curry public support that the Benue State Government (BNSG) had initiated the Phase II of the State Amnesty Programme, just to implicate the gallant soldiers who performed the operation against Gana and his gang is hogwash.

We cannot be fooled all the times. BNSG’s State Security Council declared Terwase Akwaza Agbadu wanted in 2020, with an initial bounty of N10 million. In July 2020, Gov. Samuel Ortom raised the stakes to N50 million.

So, at what point was the declaration of Gana as wanted to be vacated by the Benue State Security Council for Gov. Ortom to claim of organizing a Phase II of Amnesty Programme to have necessarily restrained the ceaseless soldiers scouting for the arrest of Gana?  This is Suswam’s strongest point of emphasis, yet he claims to have practised law for three decades.

That Amnesty Programme Phase II was a kangaroo arrangement and a sham. And the brave soldiers who braved death;  eventually got Gana and some members of his gang after months in the scrubs deserves their reward. For the people of Sankera, however, the death of Gana is a big breather and we extend gracious thankfulness to the team as a token of our appreciation.

Again, what this incident has confirmed about Sen. Suswam’s personality is that he is a man of double standards. He was never with the people all through the years Gana unleashed mayhem on the innocent kinsmen, women and children alike. It’s now obvious Suswam defended Gana both in the political and corporate world. 

Manwo is a teacher and wrote this article from Katsina-Ala, Benue State.


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