By Jude Atupulazi
The Benue State Government’s commissioning of a security outfit in Makurdi on Saturday June 3, 2023, has triggered a massive outcry in the state by those who have expressed their discomfort at the prospect of those terrorizing them now being allowed to form own security.
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 had 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.
An online newspaper, National Record, said it 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.
Many residents of Makurdi who spoke about the launch of the new security organization, felt disturbed that the new organization was dominated by men of Fulani extraction considering what they described as 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 using men who had questionable backgrounds in the state and putting them 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 the 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 was in cahoots with those who had vowed to displace indigenous people of the state from their ancestral lands and take over.
Shange reminded the Alia Government that the state already had 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 were 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 had 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 said not to be seen campaigning anywhere until he surfaced at the polling unit on the day of the Election and failed to get single vote in the election.
Tershaku, though a Tiv man who went wild and became a Boko Haram lynchpin, is believed to be a Fulani agent who had been sent on a mission by his sponsors to capture Benue State for them.