Friday, 5 August 2016

Benue Governor’s Officials Run Gun Syndicates – Terwase Akwaza

A wanted aide of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state, Mr. Terwase Akwaza, has fingered top officials of the administration as being behind gun syndicates in the state.

Akwaza, until he was declared wanted by the police over the death of the Senior Special Assistant on Security, Mr. Denen Igbana, was the Chief Coordinator of Amnesty Program in Benue state.

The fleeing former amnesty coordinator alleged in a telephone interview that the existence of the syndicates was a major setback to the amnesty programme.

In April, Akwaza was incriminated by the police in the killing of Igbana.

He alleged that the arms syndicates were still in business as they did not embrace the amnesty programme as the criminal gangs who surrendered their arms.

"Of what use is the amnesty when arms are surrendered, but those selling them are not part of the programme.

"The reason why arms are still in circulation is because they still get to buy them from those that are selling.”

Akwaza called on government to take the programme seriously by extending the amnesty to those top shots in the administration that were dealing in arms, alleging that a top retired military officer in the administration was coordinating the arms trade for the syndicate.

Akwaza, who coordinated the surrender of arms from criminal gangs to the government, said most of the gangs that were granted amnesty purchased weapons from the syndicate.

Akwaza advised government to grant proper amnesty to government officials running such syndicates.

He said it was important for such officials to embrace the programme in order to halt the proliferation of arms trade in the state.

However, Special Adviser on Security Matters, Retired Col Edwin Jando, said such allegations were baseless and could not be substantiated.

He said there was no gun running syndicate in the state and described the allegation as "spurious."

He specifically denied the existence of such a racket and said if it did exist, it was only in the imagination of Akwaza and his gang.

"As a retired military officer, I don't even know the procedure of importing arms into the country and I can't be involved in such a thing after serving in the army for 27 years."

He alleged that Akwaza was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the programme having collected N6 million from the government for the arms he surrendered to the amnesty committee.

The adviser said the amnesty programme of the administration was on course, stressing that it had moved to the last stage of prosecuting those hoarding arms.


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