DSS Names Suswam, Militia Leader Gana Behind Benue Killings
The Department of State Services has revealed its reasons for detaining a former Governor of Benue State, Mr. Gabriel Suswam, for about 73 days between February 25 and Sunday, May 7, 2017.
The agency stated that intelligence available to it showed that Suswam was affiliated with an alleged militia leader in the state, Terwase Akwaza, also known as Gana, “who is involved in terrorising the citizens of Benue State.”
It stated that Suswam had threatened to make Benue State ungovernable for the incumbent governor, Samuel Ortom, adding that indeed the state “has proved to be ungovernable in the past few months with various crises occurring every now and then.”
The agency added that Suswam was arrested on February 25, 2017, for allegedly being in possession of “three lethal and prohibited weapons” and for his “avowed commitment to bring about a state of unrest in Benue State.”
The agency stated these through one of its operatives, Mr. Abdullahi Adamu, who deposed to a counter-affidavit filed to oppose a fundamental human rights enforcement suit instituted by Suswam, challenging the alleged violation of his rights through alleged illegal and continued detention.
Suswam had filed his N10bn suit on April 4, 2017, after spending no fewer than 38 days in the DSS detention.
He joined the DSS; its Director General, Lawal Daura; and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), as the defendants.
But the three defendants in a counter-affidavit, filed as their joint response to the suit, denied the allegations of violating the ex-governor’s rights, exhibiting copies of the various court orders permitting them to keep Suswam in custody.
Adamu, the DSS operative, who deposed to the respondents’ affidavit, stated that “three lethal and prohibited weapons” were allegedly uncovered in the ex-governor’s Mercedes Benz car.
The operative, who said he was of the DSS team that arrested Suswam on February 25, 2017, explained that the former governor admitted that the weapons were found in his vehicle but claimed that they were planted there by his political enemies.
He stated in his counter-affidavit, “That I know as a fact that intelligent report at our disposal is to the effect that he (Suswam) has vowed to make Benue State ungovernable for the present governor of the state (Samuel Ortom).
“That the applicant is said to be affiliated with the militia leader Terwase Akwaza, also known as Gana, who is involved in terrorising the citizens of Benue State.
“That Benue State has proved to be ungovernable in the past few months, with various crises occurring every now and then.
“That intelligence available to the respondents revealed that the applicant and the militia leader (who is currently at large) are behind the spate of kidnappings and loss of lives in Benue State.
“That I know for a fact that three lethal and prohibited weapons, to wit, a Gluck Pistol, with serial no. KM275; a Mini Uzi, with serial no. 54976; and one (1) AK 47 rifle, with serial no. 56 -22620063, were discovered in the applicant’s Mercedes Benz car at Dunes.
“That as a result of the above, the applicant was arrested for the possession of ammunition and the avowed commitment to bring about a state of unrest in Benue State.”
The respondents maintained that it was “in the best interest of justice and citizens of Benue State that the applicant remained in detention pending his arraignment in due course by the third respondent (the AGF).”
Further justifying Suswam’s detention, Adamu stated that after arresting the former governor on February 25, the DSS on February 28, sought and obtained through an ex parte motion, an order made by Justice Y. Halilu of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Jabi, Abuja, to keep the applicant for 14 days.
The operative stated that the agency also through an ex parte motion, on March 15, 2017, obtained a renewal of the remand order extending the period of the detention, “pending the completion of investigation” by another 14 days.