Nigeria: Why 'Gana' Should Not Have Been Killed - Experts

(file photo).
10 September 2020

Security experts and stakeholders in Benue State have condemned the killing of Terwase Akwaza, popularly known as Gana by the military.

Speaking to Daily Trust on the matter, a security expert, Group Captain Sadiq Shehu (rtd), said Rule of Law and International Humanitarian Laws are sacrosanct and, as such, any killing of a suspect is unacceptable.

"If you arrest a person, he is under your control, and so as a professional military man you cannot gun him down.

"It's not for the soldier to decide that Gana was too bad for society, it's the court that should decide that," he said.

Gana was reportedly arrested on Tuesday, taken away and shot by soldiers after a government convoy that was conveying him to Makurdi, the Benue State capital, was intercepted.

Military authorities however announced that he was killed in a gn fight with soldiers, while Governor Samuel Ortom insisted that the militia kingpin and more than 100 of his men were on their way to be granted amnesty.

Controversial circumstances

According to Group Captain Shehu, based on what Governor Ortom is saying, which implied that Gana was captured alive, although it still remains to be verifie, the killing was condemnable.

However, he added, if Gana ws killed in a gun battle as the military is saying, then the soldiers had the right to protect themselves.

Also speaking on the issue, another security expert, Kabir Adamu, condemned the alleged extra-judicial killing of the wanted militia leader, noting that the rule of law must always prevail.

He explained that Gana, who was first a vigilante allegedly armed by the state government and was subsequently declared wanted for killing the aide of a state governor, was all of a sudden in talks with Governor Ortom.

'Highest level of impunity'

He noted that this is the highest level of impunity, adding that since Gana was declared wanted by the Nigeria Police, the governor should have alerted the necessary authority on the location of such criminal.

"Gana was declared wanted and as such could not be granted amnesty without a judicial injunction", he said.

Adamu also said extra-judicial killings cannot be condoned.

He drew attention to statements by Agnes Callamard, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, who he said pointed out certain aspects of the Nigerian Law that encouraged extra-judicial killing by enforcement officers.

He said such laws should be reviewed to ensure that extra-judicial killings are brought to an end.

He noted that Gana had prime information and if debriefed would have been useful to the security architecture of the country.

Benue stakeholders react

A community leader in Logo Local Government Area of Benue State, Chief Joseph Anawah said that the reported killing of Gana by the Nigerian army was wrongly done.

Anawah told our correspondent by telephone that the stakeholders of the Sankera Bloc comprising the three local government areas of Ukum, Logo and Kastina-Ala were not happy with the development.

"Gana's killing was very bad and we the Sankera stakeholders are not happy. This kind of killing amounts to extra judicial exercise.

"They eliminated him in a very wrong way. It is the creation of more problems for us," he said.

The community leader who described the handling of Gana as very different from how other repentant outlaws across the country were treated, worried that some of the deceased militia kingpin's boys who retreated after his arrest might regroup for further trouble.

Anawah added, "what guarantee can the military give us now that these boys will not come back after us?"

'Opportunity for new beginning'

Similarly, an Idoma youth leader, Adakole, regretted that the society was no longer safe for bad people who decided to turn a new leaf.

He said the killing of Gana, a repentant militia kingpin who had surrendered himself to embrace peace and the amnesty programme organised by the Benue State government, suggested that bad people cannot have the opportunity to live a new life.

Adakole said though Gana's many atrocities could not be justified, there were yet examples of repentant bandits in the country's troubled areas who were pardoned as he wondered why the case of the deceased was different.

The youth leader further posited, "I condemned the killing of Gana because you don't summarily execute a man who willingly surrendered himself and was prepared to work with government and security agencies to fight insecurity as well as live a good life going forward."

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