TENSION IN BENUE OVER RELEASE OF POPULAR BOKO HARAM SUSPECT

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John Charles, Makurdi

There has been palpable tension in Benue State following the release of the former Coordinator of the state’s Livestock Guards, Aliu Tershaku, who was alleged by the military to be a member of the Boko Haram.

At the peak of herdsmen attacks on the state, Tershaku was arrested by the military for his alleged involvement in the attacks that claimed over 500 lives as well as displaced about 200,000 persons across the state.

The Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 707 Special Forces Brigade, Makurdi, Major Olabisi Ayeni, had in April said in a statement that the military arrested a “key Boko Haram suspect, known as Aminu Yaminu nicknamed Tershaku.”

The statement read in part, “Following an intelligence report, it was gathered that Aminu had concluded plans with his cohorts in Bauchi, Borno, Yobe and Nasarawa states to launch a major attack on innocent citizens in Benue State.”

Following the arrest, Governor Samuel Ortom had gone ahead to relieve Tershaku, who was until then the state coordinator of Livestock Guard, of his duty. He was thereafter taken to court.

However, few days ago, information filtered round the state that Tershaku had been released and was sighted around his residence in Lobi Quarters, Makurdi.

There were also insinuations that Tershaku after his release had met with some of his supporters, for unverifiable reasons, towards the end of October. This, according to findings, triggered the emergency Security Council meeting held in the state last Tuesday.

The Special Adviser to the governor on security, Col. Paul Hemba (retd.), in a chat with our correspondent on Thursday expressed worries over the release of Tershaku.

Hemba disclosed that he had been informed by one of the security agencies that Tershaku was released on bail and that investigation into his case was ongoing.

He explained that the release of Tershaku was discussed at the state Security Council meeting, where approval was given for the dissolution of the Livestock Guard to enable the state government to reconstitute the security outfit and fish out bad eggs, especially those who may be loyal to the former coordinator.

“I wish to use this opportunity to clear the air that government did not disband the Benue State Livestock Guards as being speculated in some quarters,” Hemba stated.

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