All we know about Gana, Benue’s alleged most wanted criminal now dead

News making the rounds has it that the Nigerian soldiers have killed Benue’s most wanted criminal, Terwase Akwaza also known as Gana. He was reportedly killed by military operatives Tuesday, following a shootout between him and soldiers in the Gboko LGA in Makurdi.

According to Punch, the “Benue Governor, Samuel Ortom, disclosed this on Tuesday night while addressing journalists after receiving repentant militias from Logo, Katsina Alla and Logo local government areas of the state.”

The governor said that Gana and other repentant militias were making their way to Makurdi to surrender themselves when they were intercepted close to Yandev roundabout in the Gboko LGA.

It was around 4 pm when we were waiting for the repentant militias that I received a call that Gana and others have been arrested close to Yandev roundabout in Gboko by soldiers,” the governer added. 

In another report by The Nation Newspaper, Gana was killed by Operation Ayem Akpatuma III of the Nigerian military following a shootout that ensued between the dreaded bandit and the military Tuesday, along Gbese-Gboko-Makurdi road. 40 of Gana’s men were captured during the operation and placed under custody to be handed over to the civil authorities for prosecution.

Addressing reporters Tuesday night, in Doma LGA of Nasarawa, headquarters of the 4 Special Forces Command where the lifeless body of Gana was paraded, the Commandant, Major General Moundhey Gadzama Ali said, “I invited you this evening to witness another breakthrough by troops on operation AYEM AKPATUMA III.

At about 1200hrs today, we received strategic information on the movement of the dreaded bandit named Terwase Akwaza Agbadu AKA Gana along Gbese-Gboko-Makurdi road.

Troops on operation AYEM AKPATUMA III moved swiftly and mounted snap road blocks along routs at 1300hrs, there was a meeting engagement with the convoy of the dreaded bandit AKA Gana.

A shot out ensued and he was killed. During search, the following were recovered, Qty 5 AK 47,Qty 1 FN rifle, Qty 2 Beretta pistol, Qty3 pump action guns, Qty 1 locally fabricated sub machine, Qty 10 Dane gun, Qty 19 browsing pistols, Qty 35 fabricated revolver pistols and Qty 2 fabricated mortars.”

Other recovered items according to the report include Qty 766 rounds of 7.62mm special, Qty 27.9mm rounds, Qty 26.pump action cartridge, Qty1. Machine, Qty2 waist charms, Qty2.finger ring charms and Qty2 fabricated improvised explosives.

Gana had been declared wanted

According to the report by Daily Trust, Gana had been on the run since May 2016 for alleged cases of kidnapping, robbery, murder, and cattle rustling, as well as terrorising residents around his home area and Taraba border towns.

He was offered an amnesty in 2015 but returned to his alleged criminal activities. He was then declared wanted by security agencies and the Benue government in 2016 for his atrocities.

According to Channels Television, Gana was declared wanted for the merciless killings of several innocent people, 17 in Zaki Biam in Benue and about 50 others in different parts of Benue; and for wanton destruction of property worth millions of Naira by arson at Zaki Biam in Benue on the March 20, 2017, as well as for other capital offences including kidnapping, armed robbery, culpable homicide, mischief by fire, criminal conspiracy and others.

Police investigation also revealed that Gana was responsible for the killing of the late Denen Igbana, who was the Special Adviser on Security to the Governor of Benue. 

Due to his atrocities, the Benue Government offered a 10 million Naira reward to whoever provided useful information that would lead to his arrest at the time.

Terwase Akwasa, A.K.A. Gana, is a dangerous suspect (from) Katsina-Ala Local Government Area of Benue. He speaks Tiv, Idoma and pidgin English languages fluently.

I want to make it clear that the Benue Government has placed 10 million Naira reward for anyone with useful information that can lead to his arrest,” the Police spokesman said.

Although Gana was said to have denied any involvement in the killing of Igbana after the Benue State amnesty deal was revoked. In an interview with Channels Television, Gana mentioned that he visited Governor Ortom at the Government House in Makurdi to commiserate with him, and subsequently realised that he had been declared wanted.

Meanwhile, Governor Ortom had challenged him to hand himself over to the police if he was innocent of the murder charges, kidnappings and other acts of banditry. In a separate interview, Governor Ortom disclosed that he had assured Terwase that there would be no extra-judicial execution under his administration.

And, in August 2020, the Nigerian Military reportedly said that troops of Operation Whirl Stroke, acting on credible human Intelligence, traced the wanted Benue Militia leader and kidnap kingpin to a hideout in Tse-Audu village in Akate ward, Donga LGA of Taraba, but his gang members escaped a dawn raid before they could be caught. The Military troop was said to have recovered one locally made rifle, 2 camouflage Army uniforms, one dog-tag and some substances suspected to be Indian hemp as well as charms at the hideout after combing the hideout.

Major General John Enenche, Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, disclosed that troops subsequently proceeded to Chachanji village where a school, shop and building belonging to the same militia leader “Gana” were identified and searched.”

According to the report, items discovered at the location include one locally made mortar tube, one locally made rifle and 13 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition.

The buildings were subsequently destroyed to stop Gana and his gang members from using the facilities as their hideout to carry out their criminal activities.

Events leading to Gana’s killing

According to a report by Daily Trust, “the idea of another amnesty programme surfaced following a stakeholders meeting of Sankera elders two weeks ago where the Gana’s gang allegedly willingly agreed to lay down their arms if granted amnesty.

Elders and political leaders from the area were said to have convinced Governor Ortom to start another amnesty programme which he agreed to. It was while the notorious gang leader and other repentant militias were on their way to surrender their weapons that the shootout ensued between him and the military that led to his death.

How Nigerians are reacting

Reactions have trailed the killing of the dreaded bandit across Nigeria, and some Twitter users have bared their minds on the issue.

 

Are we going to maintain a culture of killing criminals extra-judicially? 

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