One month after the leader of a notorious kidnap and armed robbery gang terrorizing Benue and Taraba State, Terwase Akwaza, also known as Gana, was killed by men of the Nigeria Army, operatives of the Force Intelligence Response Team, IRT, have swooped on the property belonging to late gang leader and arrested four members his gang, including his elder brother, Terkula Akwaza.
Vanguard gathered that Terkula was arrested when the IRT operatives trailing Gana’s fleeing gang members discovered that most of the ransom money which Gana collected from his kidnapped victims was sent to him which he used in buying landed property, buildings, vehicles and heavy-duty equipment for Gana.
The three other suspects, Saatee Undi, Terhile Tsabee and Henry Terkula, were said to be members of Gana’s gang, who took part in various kidnapping, including the 2018 kidnapping and killing of a medical doctor, his friend and his son on their way from Taraba State. N7.5million was paid to Gana as ransom for their release but the victims were found dead few days after.
It was gathered that while the IRT operatives were interrogating some of Gana’s associates they discovered that his elder brother, Terkula Akwaza, had helped him in acquiring property worth hundreds of millions of naira. A source disclosed that when Terkula’s account was investigated, it was discovered that Gana had paid over N300million into his account within the period of three years. The source added that Akwaza has been helping the operatives to recover all the all property.
When Vanguard interviewed the 47-year-old elder brother, he disclosed that he decided to help his brother save his money and buy property, even when he knew they were proceeds of crime because according to him, he was scared of his brother and he didn’t want people to think that he was jealous of him. Akwaza also said that he was happy that his brother has been killed, affirming that his brother’s death would now bring peace to him and members of his family, who he said had been on the run for a long time since Gana started his notoriety.
Narrating how Gana ventured into crime and the property he acquired for him, Terkula said; “Gana’s criminal tendencies became known in 1993 when he started smoking Indian helm and we didn’t know what to do about him. That same year, Gana stole a truck in the market and when he was caught, he was beaten and he ran away from the village but came back five years with many boys who were loyal to him and taking orders from him.
They started by farming but moved into armed robbery. He became so notorious and highly dreaded, that some politicians started hiring him to kill their opponents and do their bidding. My family ran away from Benue State due to his activities, but I came back in 2016 after he was granted amnesty by the state government in 2015 and was contracted to collect taxes for farm produce.
He set up a company and made me the managing director, managing the company’s account and we were paying salaries to people working for the company and remitting government’s own percentage to its account.
“Later that year, Gana was accused of killing a Special Adviser to the Governor and he was declared wanted. Rather than surrendering, he ran into the bush and started sending money to my account which I was using to buy landed property and machines him.
He sent me over 200million between 2017 and the day he was killed. I bought a drilling machine worth over N35million, an excavator at the rate of N19.5million, a dredger at the rate of N14million, a low-bed truck for N15million and a Nissan pick-up for 2.7million.
Then we bought two landed property at Asosi Junction close to Abuja for N5.7million, and another land close to Abuja for N4.5million. I learned that my brother bought a school at Makurdi known as Lady Selina college in Markurdi, bought two houses at Naka road in Markurdi close to Cathedral, bought a house on Gboko road which has twelve rooms and I just learned that my brother also bought another house in Gboko Yande area in someone else’s name. He was buying property in his children’s name.
I am happy that my brother has been killed, we now have peace in our family. I will stop running up and down now because my brother was hunting me and security agents who were looking for my brother were also hunting me and my family members. Government can take all my brother’s property, he got them through crime and I don’t need any of them.”
Terhile Tsabee, 27, a native of Kastina-ala in Benue state, narrated how he joined Gana’s gang and how he also took part in the kidnapping and killing of the Medical doctor which earned him the sum of N300,000 as his own share of the ransom.
He said; “it was while I was trying to find other means of survival that I met Teerna. Initially I thought that he was a farmer before he told me the truth. He explained to me how they were surviving and that if I didn’t want to be harassed by Gana’s boys, I should join them. I joined them because I needed money.
We used to go out to hustle and when ransom was paid the victim would be released. Unfortunately, in 2018, we did a job that Teerna decided to execute the victims. I had gone to visit Teerna in the bush where they were hiding to beg for money and he told me that we should go out and hustle. They were hiding in a forest between Taraba and Benue.
We just went out to an area that had deep gully which would slow down motorists and one of us was at the spot to alert us whenever a big vehicle was coming. The member then called us and we later discovered that it was a medical doctor. There were four of us with one AK47 and a pistol. We kidnapped the doctor who was coming to Benue from Taraba and he was with a friend and his son. We handed him over to Teerna who negotiated with the family and they eventually paid N7.5million after three weeks.
I was given N300,000 and I kicked against it. Teerna asked us to disappear before Gana would order our execution. He told us that it was Gana who determined the sharing formula. It was later that we heard that the victims were killed, I do not know why they killed them. I had seen Gana at the church in 2015 when he was granted amnesty.
I followed those who came to see him because he was a dreaded lord in our area. I have heard so much about him but that was the first time that I saw him. He was a kidnapper, an armed robber and terrorist. Even as a farmer he gave us trouble.
We normally paid him N3000 every year. He would send his children to come and collect the money on his behalf. If you had a big farm, you must give N3000 and goat every year. Kai! I am so happy that he is dead. We have suffered a lot in his hands. The money that we made from farming, he took it forcefully from us. I know that I am a bad person but with the death of Gana it would be easy to survive”.
24-year-old Saatee Undi, on his part said he was the person who negotiated the ransom after the medical doctor was kidnapped, because he understood Jukum language, but he was angry that he got only N250,000 as his share after the ransom was paid. On how he joined the gang he said; “It was Terhile who took us to Teerna.
I observed that Terhile was always buoyant and spending lavishly. When I asked him, he told me how he was making money from kidnapping and I decided to follow him. He took me to Teerna’s house in the bush. His hideout was between Taraba and Benue boundary. He promised to contact us and a month later we went back to his house inside the forest.
He said there was no money that we should go and work and we went out and kidnapped the medical doctor and his family. We took them to Teerna’s house and when we saw that they were Jukum people from Taraba state, I was asked to negotiate with them. I understand their language, that was why they chose me for the job.
They brought the money after three weeks. When it was time to collect the money, he sent me out insisting that I could betray them by speaking the language in the forest. The next day I was given N250,000. We argued with him and he said that the bulk of the money belonged to Gana. He said Gana was the one to determine the sharing formula. I don’t know why they killed the doctor, because he was alive when we left.”