Tiv Council demands Suswam’s immediate release

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Nigerian Concord Newspaper

The National Council of Tiv Youths has called for the immediate release of a former governor of Benue state, Gabriel Suswam, who is being detained by the DSS over allegation that he is behind all the killings in the state.

The organization said this during a press conference which was addressed today at Hallidays Hotels in Madurai by its national president, Dr. John Akperashi.

According to Akperashi, the Tiv Council sees the press conference as an avenue through which it may air its views to the global human community regarding the continued detention of Gabriel Torwua Suswam by Nigeria’s Directorate of State Security (DSS).

“As you may be aware, Rt. Hon. Suswam was invited by the DSS to their headquarters in Abuja last Tuesday and, as a law-abiding citizen, he had honoured the invitation, but has since then been detained by the security agency there, and to this day they have not stated why they are holding him in their custody, neither have they charged him before any court of law.

“While this is clearly a violation of his fundamental rights as a free citizen of Nigeria entitled to justice under the laws of the country, there is more to fear from the fact that this is coming on the heels of series of alarm raised quite recently by notable figures in the country suggesting a possible plot by the government of the day to arrest key opposition leaders and have them put away on trumped up charges as we approach the 2019 elections.

“Our fears are further fuelled by what we may term the body language of government back home in Benue which is strongly been suspected of having a hand in the arrest and detention of Rt. Hon. Suswam.

“Recall that the suspected link of the governmemt in Benue to Suswam’s arrest was echoed in some national media organisations which reported that the arrest was sequel to a petition written by the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, but the governor, through his media handlers, has denied the allegation.

“Yet, it is pertinent to note that the governor’s denial of complicity in Rt. Hon. Suswam’s travails at the hands of the DSS may not have been helped by the pressure which was mounted on this body, the National Council of Tiv Youths, to cancel a planned peaceful protest march which was organised to have held today in Makurdi to demand that the DSS release Suswam or charge him to court without any further delay.

“Despite that I, as the President of the National Council of Tiv Youths, had written an undertaking to the effect that the planned peaceful protest march would no longer hold, this morning, seven trucks of heavily armed security agents, made up of the DSS, Police, Civil Defence Corps and the Army, had descended on my business premise, Balcony Park and Garden, and had locked down the place.

“Balcony was the venue earlier designated as take-off point for the planned but now cancelled march, and when I had approached leaders of the security operatives who took over my business premises, they simply told me they were carrying out orders from above” the statement said.

The Tiv Council urged that the DSS should release Rt. Hon. Gabriel Torwua Suswam from detention or charge him to the courts of law which are the institution of State vested with the powers to determine whether a citizen is guilty of having breached the law or not, in all situations.

It also urged that the Tor Tiv, Professor James Ayatse, should muster all powers and influence vested to him on behalf of the Tiv race to ensure that no harm befalls Rt. Hon. Suswam as a son of Tiv, and that he is released from this unlawful detention by the DSS or charged to court without any further delay.

Also, the Council said that Gov. Samuel Ortom should have nothing to fear from the agitations of the body which in this particular instance is calling for the release of Rt. Hon. Suswam by the DSS, or that they should charge him to court instead of keeping him in perpetual detention without trial.

“We are law-abiding Benue citizens of Tiv extraction desirous of the peace and progress of our land, and our agitations in this regard are genuine, peaceful and being made conscious of the negative impact that Suswam’s continued incarceration will have on Tiv unity and collective strength. We call on the governor, and indeed, all Tiv sons and daughters, of all status, to be mindful that for us to survive as a race, we must stand together in the face of the grave security challenges confronting us as a people presently” the said.

According to the Council, all people of good conscience, within and outside the boundaries of Nigeria should condemn the arrest and continued detention of Rt. Hon. Suswam and equally demand for his release, considering the potentially negative consequences to the country’s relatively young and growing democracy, should this dangerous trend of arbitrary arrests and incarceration of opposition leaders in the country be allowed to continue unchecked.

The also called on the Tiv nation and Nigerians at large to be prepared to stand up and defend their rights and freedoms against all forms of excesses from government, because good governance and a free society will not be given to us as a gift by any leader, but it will be the product of the vigilance and tenacity in resisting tyranny and demanding justice at all times for one and all citizens, under a system regulated by the rule of law.