JUST IN:Benue Security Council calls for release of repentant militiamen

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…as Tiv cultural group condemns Akwaza’s killing

The Benue State Security Council rose from an expanded meeting on Friday with a call for the release of all repentant youths arrested on Tuesday by men of Operation Ayem A Kpatuma on their way to being granted amnesty by the state government.

The Security Council also called for the release of vehicles and all items confiscated by the army during the operation, including the official Hilux vehicle of the Executive Chairman of Katsina-Ala Local Government Council, Hon. Alfred Atera, in which the late Terwase Akwaza also known as Gana was being conveyed to Makurdi.

The call came just as Mzough-U-Tiv (MUT), a tiv socio-cultural organisation, condemned Gana’s killing, describing it as extra-judicial.

Briefing journalists at the Government House Makurdi after the Security Council meeting, Governor Samuel Ortom said the council had resolved to demand the release of the affected youths to enable them complete the amnesty process.

Governor Ortom said the people of Sankera had expressed deep concern about the circumstances and stories surrounding the arrest and killing of Gana, noting however that government would continue to interface with the army for amicable resolution of the impasse.

He stated that Council also resolved that the amnesty programme be extended to other parts of the state, saying that a committee had been constituted to ensure the training and reintegration of the repentant youths into the society.

The Governor appreciated the stakeholders from Sankera who were part of the amnesty programme for the confidence building which he said had enhanced peace in the area.

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Council also called for the beefing up of security in Sankera and other border communities to forestall breakdown of law and order
Condemning Gana’s killing by the military, MUT recalled that he was waylaid on his way to Makurdi for an amnesty programme and killed by military men belonging to 4 Special force Battalion in Doma, Nassarawa State.

Speaking to newsmen in Makurdi yesterday, the President- General of Mzough- U- Tiv (MUT) CP Iorbee Ihagh (rtd) described the killing of Gana who voluntarily surrendered as “extra-judicial murder”.

The Tiv tribal leader stated that even in war situation, once an enemy surrenders, the worst situation is he will be taken as prisoner of war and made to face trial.
He described the statement by military which claimed they exchanged gun fire with Gana as totally false, saying the wanted leader was in the company of Katsina Ala Local Government chairman and traditional rulers before he was taken out and killed .

He called for a judicial commission of inquiry to determine who and how Gana was killed, saying it was an affront on Tiv nation.

He said: “There is amnesty programme in South-south, Southeast, North and even Boko Haram are granted amnesty plus N500,000 given to them. So why should the amnesty in Benue be a different case?”

CP Ihagh also called on the military to immediately release those who were arrested along side with Gana to continue with the amnesty programme.
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