The Nigerian Army is pushing for the payment of the N50 million bounty placed on wanted terrorist gang leader Terwase Agwaza (a.k.a Gana) by Benue Governor Samuel Ortom.
The request came barely 72 hours after Agwaza was killed by troops during an operation by Special Forces Command in Doma, Nasarawa State.
It also came on a day the governor resolved to push ahead with a planned amnesty programme designed by his administration for repentant criminals, despite Agwaza’s death.
A top source in the military, who spoke in confidence with The Nation, said the Army is waiting to see whether or not the governor will fulfill his promise.
The source said the fulfillment of the pledge will determine the extent of the backing from political authority for the military.
The source said: “Our Special Forces have eliminated a notorious criminal/terrorist gang leader, Terwase Agwaza, who has been terrorizing Benue State and environs for too long. He had been on the wanted list of security agencies.
“The Nigerian Army Special Forces Command in Doma Nasarawa State conducted a special operation that helped in destroying notorious camps of criminals and terrorists terrorizing Nigerians along Nasarawa and Kogi States recently.
“The fugitive criminal Gana has been on the wanted listed of security agencies for long. The Benue State governor in the year declared him wanted and placed a N10 million bounty on anyone who can lead to the arrest of Gana.
“Despite the ransom (bounty), Gana still remained elusive, forcing the state government to raise it to N50 million bounty for his arrest. Yet, he was elusive, not until he was gunned down by the Special Forces on 8 September, 2020.
“In the midst of this situation, the Nigerian Army deserves to be paid the N50 million ransom, having killed Gana. The assignment has been completed, the Army should be paid.
“It is not the cash that is important, but the need for political authority to set good precedent by giving backing to the military.
“It is a symbolic reward which the Nigerian Army is ready to take from the governor. It is time to walk the talk. We are already pushing for the bounty.”
Gana was declared wanted after he allegedly killed Ortom’s Special Assistant on Special Security Denen Igbana.
The governor had thrice announced different rewards for anyone with information on Gana, ranging from N5 million and N10 million in 2017 and N50 million in 2020
On July 15, Ortom said: “I want to reiterate that the N50m the government promised as reward for anyone with information leading to the arrest of the wanted man, Gana (Terwase Akwaza), still stands.”
But, the governor said he would not be distracted by the Terwase’s killing on his way to surrender for amnesty programme.
Ortom told reporters after the State Security meeting in Government House, Makurdi, that his administration decided to proceed with the amnesty programme, despite the temporary setback occasion by Akwaza’s death.
The governor said the State Security Council will today meet with stakeholders from Sankera to review the situation and the way forward.
He said the Council has resolved to continue with the amnesty programme to cover those who retreated, allaying the fears of the repentant youths who may be intending to be part of the programme.
According to Ortom, 42 youths from Logo have been successfully profiled and allowed to return home, pointing out that a committee, headed by his Security Adviser Col. Paul Hembah (rtd), was constituted to work out rehabilitation plans for the repentant youths.
He said his Special Advisers on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs Jerome Torshimbe, and that of Special Duties, Joseph Odaudu, have also been drafted as members of the committee.
Other members are: chairmen of Katsina-Ala, Logo and Ukum local government areas. The committee has a mandate to identify skills of the repentant youths for necessary intervention.
The governor said security had been beefed up in Sankera to prevent breakdown of law and order.
He acknowledged the peaceful disposition of the people of Sankera and urged them to sustain it as everything was being done to guarantee the security of lives and property.