Monday, 3 April 2017

Suswam: Victim Of Executive Vendetta Or Political Blackmail?


By Samuel Ukeyima
It is no longer news that the former Governor of Benue state, Dr. Gabriel Torwua Suswam, is in detention.



Suswam has been in the custody of the Department of State Service(DSS) for about a month now over the alleged crime of gun-possession. It is also not news that he has, so far, been refused bail by the DSS – although the offence for which he is being held is  not capital crime and thus bailable.

It is obvious to those  familiar with the  character of Benue politics that the state government may be behind Suswam’s travails. From the look of things therefore,  Suswam could be said tobe a victim of executive vendetta and political blackmail.

A little incursion into the recent political history of the state will make the matter better understood. In his desire to govern the state at all cost,Benue Governor, Samuel Ortom crossed over from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) into the All Progressives Congress(APC) at the eleventh hour and  immediately became the party’s flag bearer. He was believed to have entered into  political MoUs with the APC leader in Benue State, Dr. George Akume. Part of the MoU was the “persecution” of Suswam if the APC won the governorship!

So, there is a meeting point of vengeance. Former Governor Akume is known to  have being at daggers drawn with Suswam for refusing to do his bidding. Similarly, Chief Ortom too has not forgiven Hon. Suswam for refusing to manipulate the 2015 PDP primaries in his favour!

From the foregoing, one can understand easily why the scheming to reduce Hon. Suswam’s political stature  became Governor Ortom’s Project from his first day in office. In that sense, Hon. Suswam has been accused of just anything that goes wrong. For example, if pensioners protest the non-payment of their entitlements or there is a critical media report against the Governor, the former Governor Suswam is held responsible. Even the state wage bill which rose astronomically after Suswam left office is blamed to the former Governor. One can go on mention many more of such cases.

One is still at a loss why the DSS is still keeping the former Governor without preferring a single charge against him. The suspicion is that some executive pressure from Benue state has been brought to bear on the DSS to keep the former member of the House of Representatives.

Otherwise how do we justify the case that the DSS saw two cars at a location in Maitama part of Abuja, the operatives raided the place and impounded the cars behind the supposed owner of the cars? In that guise,  would it be fair under the law to associate the gun discovered in the cars with the said owner?

Against this background therefore, The DSS appears to have a weak case  as far as gun-possession is concerned.  This is the dilemma of the DSS. Could it be the reason why its operatives cannot charge the former Governor to court after one month in detention?

And to worsen matters, Benue government officials have submitted new petitions to the DSS  all aimed at sustaining the continued detention of former Governor Suswam. With Local elections in Benue scheduled for June 3, in Benue, it might as well be a strategy to keep the supposed leader of opposition in the state out of circulation so that the party in power can sweep the polls.

The fear is that if Suswam gets out of detention,  he would mobilize the populace to give the APC a serious fight at the polls. And since the council elections would be a kind of mid-term popularity test for the  Ortom administration,  the government’s strategists are leaving nothing to chance, including the continued detention of Dr Suswam.

It is part of the schemeing that  the former Governor is being linked to one notorious criminal – Terwase Akwaza also known as Ghana. This criminal whose wife was a House of Assembly candidate of the APC in the 2015 election has been known to be a political foe of Suswam but it now pays the powers in Benue to associate him with the former Governor. As the saying goes, this is giving a dog a bad name to hang it.

All said, there can be no reasonable justification to keep a citizen in detention without any charge before a  court of competent jurisdiction for over a month!

The DSS has a duty to work according to the provisions of the Nigerian constitution and must be seen to be protecting all citizens and not dancing to the tune of one person or certain powerful interests. The DSS can still protect its integrity by doing the right thing in this case. The Agency should either release the former Governor or take him to court to face prosecution. The time to do that is now.

– Ukeyima, a political activist resides in Makurdi.

Source: https://www.leadership.ng/news/579350/suswam-victim-of-executive-vendetta-or-political-blackmail

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