Benue State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, has explained efforts being made by the various security agencies to restore peace in the state after the recent killings by Fulani herdsmen and to arrest the state terror kingpin, Terwase Akwaza, popularly known as Gana
He said the search for a suspected terror kingpin, Gana, who was declared wanted for criminal activities in the state has been ongoing for a long time. “Before now, a special team was deployed in this state. The team was led by the Commissioner of Police, Nasarawa State, when he was CP, Mobile Force and they are doing everything possible to apprehend Gana and his criminal gang members. The IG has directed that we should renew efforts and with the deployment of the technical and intelligence aspect of the police by the IG, our efforts will yield positive results.
“With the situation on the ground, we discovered that without credible intelligence, it would be difficult to arrest such a criminal. I want to assure Nigerians that with the new vigour in pursuing this criminal, within the shortest possible time and with facilities the police have deployed in this operation, Gana’s days are numbered. The IG is determined to ensure that the notorious criminal is brought to book. Anywhere he is, he should know that his days are numbered. He cannot hide forever.
“We are determined to arrest all his lieutenants anywhere they are. We are doing this in conjunction with our counterpart in the (Department of) State Services and where personnel are required, we will deploy them. It is just a matter of time; soonest, we will get them so that the state will be able to have peace. You are aware that the state governor had also increased the bounty placed on him to N50m. We also use this opportunity to tell members of the public to volunteer useful information that could assist us to apprehend the criminals.”
He revealed that though Gana’s wife has been arrested, Owoseni explained that “I will not say more than I have told you. This is an operation; an assignment that requires secrecy to cover the operation and we do not want to jeopardise our efforts.”
Explaining that the crisis along that Katsina Ala area is caused by this suspected terrorist, he said that “the crisis within the Katsina Ala axis has nothing to do with herdsmen and farmers clashes; it is just communal clashes and it has historical background. It is between the people of the Ukum Local Government Area and the Tishile people in the Katsian Ala Local Government Area. The notorious criminal is from that area, and there have been indications that sometimes, the two warring communities employ some members of Gana’s gang to prosecute the communal clashes.
“It is a finding that is more or less the groundwork. You know these people have been together before they split into factions with some elements supporting Gana while some are against. However, we are putting a check to this and the governor and some leaders from the affected areas are complementing the efforts of the police. The criminality that is taking place in that axis requires the partnership of governmental and non-governmental bodies to tackle effectively.
“Nobody can frustrate the arrest of criminals. Security institutions are upping in their game as I said earlier. With the application of technology, there is no way he can escape arrest, though there could be conspiracy of silence. However, there is no conspiracy that the application of technology will not frustrate. That is why we are very sure that all efforts that have been put in place will soon yield results.”
Expressing sadness over claim by a first-class monarch in this state who alleged that the police are under instruction to protect the Fulani militias against arrest, he said it is very sad. “Not just sad, but I know that no revered monarch in this state will say that. Maybe some people are making those statements disguising as monarchs. What I know is that all the revered monarchs in this state have acknowledged that the police and other security agencies are doing their best to put an end to security challenges. They will not come out to say that the police are under instruction to protect Fulani. That will be very sad, given the losses the Nigeria police have suffered.
“What the Nigeria police deserve now is encouragement because the police personnel, who are not indigenes, are in the state to serve their fatherland. Many of them have been hacked down in the crisis. It will be unfortunate for anyone to say that the police are under instruction to protect one side or the other. Our obligation to the people of this country is to discharge our statutory duties of protecting lives and properties and pronto, that is exactly what we have been doing without bias to any political, tribal or religious leaning. We must also emphasise that the police have remained the major organisation that has contributed to the unity of this country. The IG has supported every effort in bringing an end to this crisis; a Deputy IG has been on the ground, except if people wouldn’t say the truth. For the past two weeks, we have seen a drastic reduction in the hostilities and that is something people of this state should commend.
“I will repeat it: It is very sad and unfortunate. Anyone that makes such insinuation must be an agent of conflict in the state, what we need is for every stakeholder to partner with the police and other security agencies to ensure that we are able to get those causing crisis in the state. As I speak to you, I can roll out the areas we have covered. We have interacted with various IDPs. We have placed security in the areas in order to give them assurance. If you go round to some of these places, some of the displaced persons have come back fully, some partially. The ones I said returned partially are the ones who would go to their communities during the day but in the evening, you will see them in the camps, maybe, for shelter or for food. What we should be thinking of now is how to rebuild, because if we do not rebuild those communities, even if you have 100 per cent security there, people will still be going in and out of the IDP camps.
“There is no challenge here that is insurmountable. There was a commissioner of police here before I came that did his best. The IG was here and there was also a deputy commissioner of police in charge of operation that has been operating in this state. We have not come to face any challenge, neither are we overwhelmed. I am only contributing my own little quota to what my seniors, the IG, the DIG and other supporting officers, have done. I have a commissioner of police from the mobile (unit) here. The IG has strengthened us enough to arrest the situation.
“Let me thank the IG for this support and the priority he has given to this operation. The reality on the ground as of today is that the state is relatively calm.
“There is no ongoing killing in the state at the moment. All of the security apparatus have been up and doing and I want to inform you that we has recorded a serious reduction in the crisis,” he said.