By Moses Uzer, Katsina-Ala; Mathew Ajai-Kume, Godwin Edeh, Makurdi and Moses Mbaiorga, Gboko
The big question on the lips of most observers in Benue State and beyond is: who is behind the murder of Chief Terkura Suswam, the elder brother to former Benue State Governor and Senator representing Benue North-East, Gabriel Suswam?
As answer to this big puzzle is being sought, Security agents, especially the police have assured that nothing will be spared as they begin discreet investigation into the assassination of Dr Suswam, and his aide, Solomon Utanor .
The Commissioner of Police in Benue State, CP Audu Madaki has assured the family of the deceased and the people of Benue state that the perpetrators of the gruesome murder will be apprehended and definitely served justice.
The police boss’ declaration is coming at a time that Governor Samuel Ortom has vowed that killers of the late Suswam must be arrested and brought to face the full wrath of the law.
Governor Ortom, while on a condolence visit to the family of the late Chief Terkura Suswam in Makurdi, said the murder was “an open declaration of war on the people of Sankera by criminal elements”
The late Suswam who holds the traditional tittle of the ‘Zege Iwanger i Tiv’ (Great Illuminator of the Tiv Nation) was reported to have received a letter from his yet to be identified assailants who vowed that either him (Terkura), his brothers, Senator Gabriel Suswam and Cephas Suswam, must be killed unfailingly.
Also, it was said that the late Suswam might have had premonition of his death as he was overheard telling students of Ashi Polytechnic, Anyiin, few days before his death that if his death would ensure the security of the people of his locality, he was ready to pay the ultimate price.
As at the time of this report, it was still unclear whether his attackers were political assassins or members of the dreaded gang of the late militia leader, Terwase Akwaza popularly known as Gana.
The murder of the Late Dr Suswam took place last Tuesday in his country home in Anyiin, Logo Local Government Area of Benue state when he had gone to supervise a building project, located beside his private residence, at about 8pm when the assailants attacked and killed him, alongside his aide.
Eye witness and relative to the deceased, Mr Terwase Tingir, said the unknown gunmen came from Ugba-Anyiin road and drove in a Toyota car popularly called in local parlance as ‘Duck Nyash.’
According to Tingir, when the late Chief Suswam discovered that the people in the vehicle were after his life., he (Suswam) quickly made efforts to run for his life but it was too late as, according to Tingir, the assassins shot him (Suswam) five times and disappeared immediately. The late Suswam died on the spot while his aide, gave up, few minutes after.
It was further gathered that military personnel appeared at the scene shortly after the attack and conveyed the remains of Suswam and his aide, and deposited in the mortuary at NKST General Hospital, Anyiin.
Benue Govt places N5m bounty on Suswam’s killers
Meanwhile, the Benue State Government has placed a N5 million bounty for any information that would lead to the arrest of Dr Terkura Suswam’s killers.
Governor Samuel Ortom disclosed this to newsmen, after the Benue Security Council meeting at the New Banquet Hall of Benue People’s House in Makurdi.
The Governor said the council also declared total war against criminals in the state.
He further revealed that the council reviewed the ban on the use of motorcycles, earlier imposed in Ukum and Katsina-Ala Local Government Areas to cover Logo Local Government Area and banned the use of old model Toyota Corolla, popularly known as “Duck Nyash” in the three affected council areas.
The Council further reviewed the dusk-to-dawn curfew, earlier imposed on Katsina-Ala and Ukum local government areas to also cover Logo area.
Governor Ortom added that the council resolved to extend resolutions of the council to include: the ban on operation of motorcycles in Katsina Ala, Ukum and Logo Local Government Areas.
According to him, the State Security Council also directed all commercial motorcycle riders in Sankera to update vehicle particulars through proper documentation while all commercial vehicles should henceforth, load and off-load only in designated motor parks.
He further announced that the Council has set up a committee to sensitise schools in Benue State on tips for effective security and protection against criminal elements. The committee is headed by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matters, Colonel Paul Hemba (Rtd), with Education Commissioner, Prof. Dennis Ityavyar and Special Adviser on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Barrister Kenneth Achabo as members.
The council also directed security agencies to step up surveillance in the state, especially in crime prone areas.
Assassination of Suswam, declaration of war on Sankera – Gov Ortom
Governor Samuel Ortom who had earlier paid a condolence visit on the Suswam family insisted that the assassination of Chief Terkula Suswam, elder brother to Senator Gabriel Suswam was an open declaration of war on the people of Sankera, by criminal elements.
He noted that he was shocked when the news reached him in Port Harcourt, Rivers State where he was attending a meeting.
The Governor explained that it is disheartening when someone whose services are targeted at the development of his community, and who has sacrificed his comfort for the good of others, in order to add value to his society, would be murdered in such manner.
“Late Chief Terkula Suswam was a peacemaker and a friend who despite political differences, never allowed anything to come in to destroy our relationship,” he stated.
Governor Ortom however, assured the family that the security agencies would apprehend and bring to book the people who carried out the gruesome murder.
The representative of the Tingir Dom family, Dr Jem Tor Anyiin described the murder of Chief Suswam as very unfortunate. Dr Tor-Anyiin said, the act has devastated the family as well as put them in a state of confusion, especially in the village.
Benue CP orders investigation
To ensure that the killers are quickly arrested, the Commissioner of Police in Benue State, CP Audu Madaki has ordered an immediate investigation into the murder of Dr Suswam and his aide.
According to a press release signed by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Benue State Police Command, DSP Catherine Anene, the CP, while commiserating with family members and friends of the deceased ordered a discreet investigation to ensure that the perpetrators of the gruesome murder are apprehended.
Lets not over-react, go overboard, says Senator Suswam
The immediate younger brother to the deceased and Senator, representing Benue North-East Senatorial District, Sen. Gabriel Suswam, through his Media Aide, Mr Batholomew Bede has called on all to remain calm and not to take the law into their hands as they mourn the death of the Late Dr Terkura Suswam.
“We must grieve the death of our elder brother, friend and family and whatever he was to every one of us, but let’s not over react or go overboard,” it said.
Buhari, Senators, PDP, others mourn
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with government and people of Benue over the death of Chief Terkula Suswam, who was killed by yet to be identified gunmen.
Buhari, in a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media, Malam Garba Shehu, last Thursday in Abuja, condoled with the former governor of Benue, Sen. Gabriel Suswam, who is the deceased’s younger brother.
He also condoled with all the friends and associates of the renowned community leader, “whose impact on media and education in the state remain commendable.”
The president believed that the circumstances surrounding the violent and untimely death of the deceased and his aide, Mr Utanor, must be thoroughly investigated and the culprits brought to book.
The President prayed that the almighty God will comfort his family and all loved ones, and God would receive the souls of the departed.
Also, the Senator representing Benue South Senatorial District, Senator Abba Moro, has expressed shock over the gruesome murder of Dr Terkula Suswam.
Senator Moro condemned the killing in its entirety and charged security operatives to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the perpetrators of the heinous crime are brought to book.
A statement released by the Senator’s Special Assistant on New Media, Emmanuel Eche-Ofun last Wednesday quoted Moro as extending his heartfelt and deepest sympathy to the deceased’s family, especially Senator Gabriel Suswam and the entire Tiv nation over the painful loss.
Similarly, paying his tribute, the state Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman, Mr John Ngbede, in a statement signed by the PDP state Publicity Secretary, Bemgba Iortyom, described the late Suswam, as a man of broad vision and uncommon courage. He said late Dr Suswam was one who in his lifetime exhibited a rare spirit of positive adventurism.
Again, the President Sankera Development Association (SADA), Gboko branch, Emmanuel Chiahemba also expressed displeasure over the sad incident describing it as unfortunate.
He described Chief Suswam as a courageous man and one of the pillars in Sankera geo-political axis.
He said the assassination of Chief Suswam is an indication that the society has completely lost its values and security architecture.
“If we continue killing illustrious sons in Sankera, who will stand for us, the SADA president asked. He opined that “the best way to resolve differences is by peaceful negotiations not arms and ammunition,” noting that the time is long overdue for stakeholders in Sankera to sit and put lasting solution to crises that have engulfed them.It is time for Sankera illustrious sons and daughters to come together and fashion out creative ways to end the matter,” he stated.
The Ter Logo, Chief Jimmy Meeme, a traditional ruler has wondered why notorious and heartless armed youths would take the life of an altruistic and illustrious son in the community who had been contributing to the socio-economic development of the area.
Also speaking, Logo, Ukum and Gboko Local Government Council chairmen have condemned the assassination of Chief Suswam.
Chairman Logo Local Government Council, Terseer Agber has expressed shock over the assassination of Chief Dr Terkura Suswam by yet to be identified gunmen.
The Ukum council boss, Stevie Ayua also said, he “received the news about the death of Dr Suswam with shock.”
Similarly, Gboko Local Government Council Chairman, James Kachina also described the assassination of Chief Suswam as “a very sad event.”
He said, “people like Chief Suswam need not to be eliminated because he is a protective shield in Sankera and his exit means there is no protection in that axis again.”