Gov. Samuel Ortom on Tuesday in Makurdi confirmed the arrest of Benue’s most wanted criminal, Terwase Akwaza, alias Gana, by soldiers of Operation Whirl Stroke on the outskirts of Gboko.
Ortom disclosed the arrest to newsmen at a news briefing at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi.
He said Gana, who had surrendered to the Amnesty programme of his administration, was being escorted to Makurdi on Tuesday when troops of the operation whirl stroke arrested him at a security check point on the outskirts of Gboko.
He said Gana was on his way to the state capital in company of the Chairman of Katsina -Ala Local Government Council together with some of his gang members.
Ortom also disclosed that he had received 42 ex criminals from Ukum, Logo and Katsina-Ala who had denounced criminality and surrendered their arms in Makurdi.
He said that the Force Commander, Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), Maj. Gen.Adeyemi Yekini, had confirmed to him earlier that they were carrying out an operation and were in possession of the wanted militia leader.
News Agency of Nigeira (NAN) reports that OPWS is the Federal Government’s joint military operation mandated to flush out all criminal elements in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa States.
NAN reports that the Benue Government had in 2015 granted amnesty to over 500 persons including Gana, but most of them had relapsed into criminality, including Gana.
The governor said that following the interception of the military, Gana and several others were whisked away together with the arms, adding that only 42 arrived Makurdi.
“Gen. Yekini has confirmed to me that they are carrying out an operation and that he will brief me when they are done and that they are with Gana. So,I am waiting to hear from him,” he said.
He said the State Government would exercise patience until the military briefed him on the matter.
Ortom said a total of 172 people left the three local government areas of Katsins-Ala, Ukum and Logo for the amnesty programme in Makurdi, but that only 42 arrived there.
He said Gana was driving in a Hilux van belonging to the Katsina-Ala local government chairman, Mr Afred Atera, his security officer, at the time he was arrested by the soldiers and taken away.
He explained that the officers also took several of the repentant criminals and the surrendered arms.
According to him, the decision to grant another round of amnesty for the people of Sankera was that of the traditional rulers, stakeholders from the area, including Sen. Gabriel Suswam.
The governor assured the repentant criminals that government would support them where necessary and that no condition was attached to the amnesty programme.
He urged them to remain committed to the amnesty programme and denounce criminal acts.
“I welcome you all and thank you for denouncing criminality. This is the last time we are granting amnesty to you.
“There is no condition attached to this amnesty like the 2015 one. Government will support you where necessary but it is not a condition,”he said.
Ortom said that this was the last round of amnesty programme that would be granted to criminals in the State.