Ortom And The Involvement Of A Boko Haram Suspect In Benue State Security

By Ikenga Chronicles November 30, 2018

Ortom And The Involvement Of A Boko Haram Suspect In Benue State Security

–Terfa Naswem

Fulani herdsmen have been killing the people of Benue State for a very long time. I wrote an article titled: “Again, Fulani Herdsmen Attack Tiv Farmers: A Report By James Uzondu in 2012”. The article highlighted some of the attacks that occurred in Benue State in 2012 when Goodluck Jonathan was the President and Gabriel Suswam was the governor. A letter was written to Suswam and Jonathan by some elders in the community informing them of the planned attacks but they did nothing to avert the attacks which took place and claimed more than 30 lives with scores injured.

Since Governor Samuel Ortom of the Benue State was sworn-in on May 29, 2015, there have been Fulani herdsmen attacks recorded in Benue State but not on a high frequency till the January 2018 attacks that occurred in Logo and Guma Local Government Councils of Benue State followed by other subsequent high frequency attacks.

Dooshima Akaazua writes that militia leader, Terwase Akwaza also known as Gana in 2016, in a recorded phone conversation explained why he refused to associate himself with the state’s Civilian Joint Tasks Force (CJTF). He had refused a N300 million offer by some elements to join in killing his people in the name of herdsmen which he admitted when Channels TV’s Charles Erukaa interviewed him at his hometown in Gbishe, Katsina-Ala Local Government.

According to her, Gana said he refused to join the CJTF because of a certain Alhaji Aliyu Tashaku, a Boko Haram suspect who was the leader of the group. He said they were involved in shady activities which he didn’t want to be involved in after he accepted the amnesty programme of the state in 2015. There were several warnings to Ortom concerning his romance with Tashaku but insisted on working with him for unknown reasons. It is the CJTF that metamorphosed into the state’s Livestock Guard vested with the responsibility of enforcing the open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law across the state under the leadership of the Boko Haram suspect.

In April 2018, Tashaku was arrested after bugged phone conversations linked him with the killings of 2 priest and 17 parishioners in Mbalom community in Benue State.

There have been many unanswered questions among which are:

(1) Why was Ortom interested in engaging the services of Tashaku when there were many experienced security experts better than him?

(2) Was Ortom not aware that Tashaku was a Boko Haram suspect?

(3) If he was aware, what did he find so unique in Tashaku that he could not disengage him?

(4) After engaging Tashaku, he was given several warnings about Tashaku’s involvement with Boko Haram. Why did he ignore such warnings?

(5) Investigation by EFCC revealed that the state government started paying the sum of N20 million monthly into the account of the Boko Haram suspect from December 2017 to April 2018 when he was arrested. What was the payment for? Has Ortom publicly denied paying money to his account?

(6) Most of these attacks took place successfully because some members of the community collect money from the herdsmen to conspire with them to kill their people. It is just like robbing the bank. It is extremely difficult to successfully rob a bank without having accomplices working in the bank so it is to most of the killings that take place. Who are the Tiv sons and daughters who are accomplices in these killings?

(7) Before engaging the services of Tashaku, why didn’t Ortom consult the Commissioner of Police, DSS or Military Intelligence to be informed of Tashaku’s status?

(8) If Ortom claims not to be aware of Tashaku’s records and tenacity to unleash terror on innocent lives, what guarantee do the people of Benue State have that there are no more his type in the present Livestock Guard?

(9) After Tashaku was arrested by security agencies for such act, why was he still released without any major penalty for his crimes?

If Ortom was not truly aware of Tashaku’s records and tenacity to unleash terror on innocent lives, this chaotic situation only underlines the obvious fact that Ortom has shown gross incompetence in handling security issues in the state, from herdsmen killings to other security challenges.