Right from the beginning, Governor Samuel Ortom made it clear that his amnesty program which was a response to the dire insecurity situation which he met on ground on assumption of office comprised two aspects: the carrot and the stick.He pleaded with those in possession of arms illegally to turn them in and even paid stipends to those who did so. The carrot approach which was to last initially for three months was extended for another month following the plea by Mr. Terwase Akwaza, alias Ghana when he turned himself in on the last day of the third month.
On that day he surrendered 84 assorted weapons and pledged to convince more gangsters to embrace the program. Subsequently several others also followed suit. At the end of the day over 600 assorted weapons and thousands of ammunition were received even as 900 youths embraced the amnesty program. A retreat was organized for the beneficiaries who were placed on a stipend for three months and their chosen vocations identified. The process of placement also commenced with several beneficiaries who were recruited into the army already passing out from the Nigerian Military depot, Zaria.
The prime beneficiary, Mr. Terwase Akwaza, who emerged as leader of the beneficiaries on account of his previous role in the underworld, applied as agent of the Benue State Internal Revenue Service on produce and he was engaged in the understanding that he would provide canopy for the others. The state government also engaged with national and international organizations to fashion out a more comprehensive program for those involved. The beneficiaries came mostly from the Benue North East senatorial district that had witnessed a lot of criminal activities with attendant loss of lives.
However, at every point Governor Ortom made it clear to beneficiaries that if they went back to their old ways the second aspect, the stick approach, would be applied on them as well as those who had not embraced the program. Mr. Akwaza, alias Ghana, assured that he would never return to crime as he cherished the freedom offered to him. While Governor Ortom was campaigning Ghana sent messages soliciting freedom if he was elected. After the amnesty program he organized a thanksgiving service in Gbishe during which he knelt down publicly and begged for forgiveness from all those he offended and pledged never to return to his vomit…Read more