By Abdulateef Bamgbose
There is growing public outcry over the Benue State Government’s commissioning of a security outfit in Makurdi on Saturday June 3, 2023.
The security organization known as Al-Tershak Global Security Ltd was established by Alhaji Aliyu Tershaku, who had in the past been arrested over alleged links with Boko Haram.
An online newspaper, National Record reported that the commissioning of the security organization was performed by the Benue State Deputy Governor, Sam Ode who was represented by his Chief Protocol Officer, Gabriel Igoche.
What was curious during the inauguration of the security outfit and which has sparked concerns among people in the state was the huge number of Fulani personnel with many of them appointed as heads of key units within the organization.
The online newspaper reported, “National Record observed during the inauguration that the membership of the security outfit was dominated by the Fulani based on the names the Director called out and looking at the number of the officers who were physically present.”
This newspaper decided to sample the reactions of residents of Makurdi following the launch of the new security organization. What was more disturbing to those who spoke with us was the fact that the organization is dominated by men of Fulani extraction considering the sour relationship between them and indigenous people of the state in recent years.
Terdue Asongu, a resident of North Bank, Makurdi who was the first to react, described the development as suspicious and cautioned the Benue State Government to retract its steps and stop the Al-Tershak Global Security Ltd from commencing operations. He feared that the presence of men who have questionable backgrounds in the state in charge of security would spell doom for innocent people.
“When I read the news that a security outfit controlled by Fulani men had been approved by the Benue State Government, a cold shiver ran through my spine. Even when Fulanis were not in control of security in the state, our people saw hell. What will happen now that they have formally been asked to take charge of our security?”, Asongu queried.
Another respondent James Gbagir who works at the Tipper Park in Wurukum said “Someone should tell Governor Rev Fr Alia that we will not accept this new security formation. He should not make us regret voting for him. We ignored rumours that Fulani people were sponsoring his election and voted for him. Is he now telling us that we were wrong?”, Gbagir wondered.
A public affairs analyst, elder Peter Shange who has constantly written against attempts by Fulani to occupy Benue lands advised the present government of the state to follow the example of Governor Ortom and come clean on the rumours that it is in cahoots with those who have vowed to displace indigenous people of the state from their ancestral lands and take over.
Shange reminded the Alia government that the state already has a lawfully recognized security outfit known as Community Volunteer Guards who were drawn from each community of the state by the people through traditional rulers. He condemned the launch of an alternative outfit which origin and ownership are suspicious.
“Let me advise Governor Hyacinth Alia to listen to good counsel and resist the pressure from those who might have funded his election, if the story is anything to go by. Allowing Aliyu Tershaku to float a Fulani controlled security organization in the state at this time is as good as sitting on a time bomb. Those guys will wake up one day and ask him (Governor) to vacate the Government House and give them the keys. No one goes to bed with a known enemy”, he stated.
Other respondents who pleaded anonymity alleged that the new government in Benue State has brought Aliyu Tershaku with his security organization to fight their political opponents.
It will be recalled that Tershaku was arrested in 2018 by the Nigerian Army in connection with the killings in Benue State. He had stayed away from the state until last year when he returned and contested for the Makurdi/Guma House of Representatives seat in the 2023 election. Even at that, he was not seen campaigning anywhere until he surfaced at the polling unit on the day of the election. He did not get single vote in the election.
Tershaku, though a Tiv man who went wild and became a Boko Haram kingpin is believed to be a Fulani agent who has been sent on a mission by his sponsors to capture Benue State for them.
His return to the state and endorsement by the Alia administration is surely not going down well with the people of the state.