By Amos Aar
THE Benue State Government has once again denied commissioning a private security outfit, Al-Tershak Global Security Ltd, set up in Makurdi by an alleged ex-bandit terrorist, Alhaji Aliyu Tershaku. The denial this time is coming from the Office of the Deputy Governor of Benue State, Honourable Barrister Sam Ode.
Mr Ior Ikyereve, media aide to Deputy Governor, Hon. Barr Ode, quoted his principal denying, at a press conference held on Friday, that the Benue State Government commissioned the private security outfit last Saturday, thereby okaying its presence in the state.
Ikyereve’s four paragraph report, posted on his Facebook wall and trending on several social media platforms not only “refuted media reports suggesting Benue State Government okayed the launch of a Fulani security outfit in the state”, but also described the news report of the commissioning as “plot by mischievous elements to drag the Government of Benue State led by Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia into a non-existent controversy”.
Ikyereve’s report, entitled: “NO FULANI SECURITY OUTFIT LAUNCHED IN BENUE”, reads: “Deputy Governor of Benue State, His Excellency, Barr. Dr. Sam Ode, mni, has refuted media reports suggesting that Benue State government okayed the launch of a Fulani security outfit in the state.
“The Deputy Governor who stated this Friday, at a press briefing in his office in Makurdi, also said he did not authorize anybody to represent him or Benue State government at any launch of a security outfit in the state.
“I did not authorize anyone to represent me or the State Government at any Fulani security summit or commissioning of security outfit”, he said.
“Barr. Sam Ode therefore called on the good people of Benue State to ignore the plot by mischievous elements to drag the Government of Benue State led by Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia into a non-existent controversy, stressing that security of lives and property of the citizens is a major focus of the Alia administration.”
Governor Hyacinth Alia had earlier on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, following popular concerns on the news report of the commissioning of the private security outfit alleged to be incorporated by an alleged ex-member of Boko Harm terrorist group, issued a disclaimer distancing his government from the security organization.
Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Tersoo Kula, in a statement disclaimed that neither the governor nor his deputy mandated Mr Gabriel Igoche, the Chief Protocol Officer to the Deputy Governor, to commission the Benue office of Al-Tershak Global Security Limited.
The statement entitled: “Re-Outcry as Benue Govt Okays Launch of Fulani Security Outfit in the state”, reads: “We read in a section of the media a news story alleging among other things that the Government of Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia of Benue state has approved a certain Security outfit of fulanis in Benue state.
“We therefore clarify as follows.
“1. The Governor of Benue state is not aware of any Fulani Security outfit and would not have “okayed” one.
“2. The desperation exhibited by the “reporter” of this news came to fore when he/she introduced strange protocol into the story. Where is it known that a sitting Governor delegates his deputy to represent him at a function and the deputy in turn, sends his “protocol officer” to represent him?
“3. The Deputy Governor of Benue state, Hon. Sam Ode mni is knowledgeable and very familiar with protocol having served variously in Executive positions including Chairman of Otukpo LGA, Adviser to the Governor, Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and now Deputy Governor. Therefore, his Excellency wouldn’t have messed up protocol in the manner the authors of this malicious news story would want the unsuspecting members of the public to believe.
“4. Our findings have indicated that a verbal invitation to attend commissioning of an office was extended to the Protocol Officer of the Deputy Governor, Hon. Sam Ode Mni, Gabriel Igoche in his personal capacity. Igoche was known to Alh. Tershaku while working for Engr. Benson Abouno in same capacity as Protocol Officer. His purported attendance at the meeting has nothing to associate Governor Alia’s led administration.
“5. Yes, Governor Hyacinth Alia is desirous to see IDPs return to their homes and farmlands, but he is not desperate to use all means to achieve this. He is working on legitimate strategies to implement this project he promised the people of the state. Very soon, the results will manifest.”
While the offices of both the governor and his deputy have repudiated the government’s linkage with either the private security outfit or its owner, they remain silent on why a security outfit linked with an alleged ex-bandit on record to have been arrested by security agencies for the lingering insecurity in the state is being inaugurated in the state.
National Record also noted that the reactions of both the Number One and Number Two citizens of the state did not offer any explanations on the presence of not only the representative of the police and some royal fathers at the commissioning.
Thirdly, while the government is clear in its statements that it did not delegate anyone to represent it, it offered no information whether the Chief Protocol Officer in question who, by the insinuation of government explanations, dropped the name of his principal at the commissioning.
National Record had reported that at the commissioning ceremony of the private security outfit last Saturday in Makurdi, the Chief Protocol Officer to the Deputy Governor had stated: “I am standing here on behalf of His Excellency, Hon. Barrister Sam Ode, the Deputy Governor of Benue State. He would have been here but for very, very exigencies of duty, he has to move out of the state.
“When Alhaji came yesterday to see him, I made a way for them to meet. And shortly after, he called me and said peace is very, very important for the state and security is Jermaine.
“For that reason, he would have loved to ask Alhaji to shift the date but due to the impromptu nature of that invitation, he cannot put it up and he has to attend to state matters.
“We all know the joy in the state for the appointment of our dear father, an elder statesman in the state, a former governor, a distinguished son of Benue, in person of Senator George Akume, who has been appointed the SGF. My boss has to rush over there to felicitate with him along with other indigenes that are going to be there. So, it’s the reason why he is not here.
“But I don’t have much speech for this day; he just asked me to represent him and because of the desperation for peace in the land, he said that Al-Tershak has kicked the ball and we all have to follow. And for other security agencies that are already on ground, they have to gear up towards this peace and that’s why we are here today. So, we are wishing him success in this operation.
“And in the operation, like the Bishop said earlier, you ensure you profile your men very well so that the Judas can be ejected out of them and that will give us a very tact security outfit and peace in the land.
“I will not say much at this point, I will thank…who has deemed it very, very important and very necessary to be here to witness this and to pray for you.
“Thank you and God bless you all”.
When he proceeded to cut the cake to mark the commissioning of the security outfit, Mr Igoche, who was flanked by the Tor Lobi, HRH Moses Anagende, represented by HRH Simon Ajoh, AIG Zone 4 Police Headquarters, Makurdi, Mr R. M. Haladu, represented by the PPRO of the zone, Mr D. A. Kaavanger, Mue Ter Nongov, HRH Gideon Tiev, among others said: “I’m here representing the Deputy Governor of Benue State. I have my fathers here and very elder statesmen who are supposed to do this but because of the designation of office, I’m here in representative capacity and the AIG is here in representative capacity. This afternoon, we are going to commission this edifice for the benefit of the society, the state and Nigeria at large in the name of God Almighty.” Apart from those other stakeholders mentioned above who graced the occasion and spoke in representative capacities, a popular cleric in the North Central, Bishop Pinot Ogbaji who is the patron of Al-tershak Global Security Ltd in Benue zone C was also in attendance and he dedicated both the officers and the building of the security outfit to God.