By Matthew Kuju
Palpable grief best describes the pervading atmosphere in Nasarawa State following what not a few people have described as mindless and gruesome and unfathomable assassination of the Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Nasarawa State.
The assassination, which apparently was executed on Saturday night was not known until the following day, Sunday November 22, 2020.
To say the least, the atmosphere across the length and breadth of Nasarawa State in particular and the country at large from the morning of Sunday November 22, 2020 and days thereafter has been that of shock and disbelief following the assassination of the Nasarawa State Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Philip Tattari Shekwo.
The country woke up Sunday morning with the news of the abduction of the party chieftain the previous night (Saturday November 21, 2020) by unknown gunmen.
While the State was yet to absorb the shock of what was initially thought to be kidnap and therefore prayers were being offered that he would be released by the abductors unharmed, the State was hit by a seeming three-digit-Richter scale earthquake, the shocking and disconcerting news that his abductors had murdered him after all and left the corpse near his residence.
As news of his death filtered and spread across the land, it has been described by many as one murder too many, which people said calls for enhanced security measures by all the security agencies in the land.
Reacting to the assassination, President Muhamadu Buhari condemned act, saying the nation’s security system must do more to end the incidents of violence in the country.
According to a statement issued by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), the President welcomed the decision of the Inspector General of Police to send reinforcement of men and materials to the State.
The statement added that the late APC Chairman was shot twice leading to his death. Police investigation is expected to determine if this was an assassination or kidnapping-related murder.
In his reaction to the tragic incident, President Buhari, while commiserating with the family of the deceased, said: “I strongly condemn the killing of Philip Shekwo. He was kind and jovial. His contribution towards strengthening the party in Nasarawa State will not be forgotten. May his soul Rest in Peace.”
Since the breaking of the news of the assassination of the party leader, his residence located along Kurikyo road, Bukan Sidi, Lafia, his residence has been visited by several sympathisers from within and outside Nasarawa State.
One of the earliest callers at the residence of the assassinated party leader was the State Governor, Engr Abdulahi A. Sule together with his predecessor, Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura.
In a Government House press statement issued on Sunday November 22, 2020, by the Chef Press Secretary to the Governor of Nasarawa State, Ibrahim Addra, Governor Abdullahi A. Sule received with great shock and bewilderment the killing of the Nasarawa State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC Mr. Philip Tatari Shekwo in the hands of yet to be identified gunmen who forcefully gained entrance into his residence last night.
The Governor reportedly said: “I am personally traumatized by this gruesome and inhuman act that has left myself, Mr. Shekwo’s family members, the APC family and indeed all well-meaning people shattered.
“My prayers and thoughts go to the family of the late Shekwo. He was a great husband, a statesman, peaceful gentleman and loyal party man.
“I will like to assure all that the perpetrators of this dastard act will not go scot free. Investigations have already commenced by our security agencies who will do all it takes to hunt down these criminals and bring them to justice.
“This killing has further our resolve to deploy every resource to fight crime and criminality and secure our people and their property.
“I urge all to remain resilient as we fight those who are bent on instilling fear in us and alter the restored peace in our state.
“We will not allow them and the Almighty will never allow them.”
In the same vein, the wife of the Governor, Hajiya Silifat Abdullahi A. Sule condoled the state APC family, Government and people of Nasarawa State as well as the family of the deceased State APC Chairman, Philip Tatari Shekwo who was abducted and later murdered.
In a statement issued by Lamino Ishaq, the S. A. Media to the Governor, Office of the First Lady, Nasarawa State, the Governor’s wife described the killing of Mr Shekwo as inhuman and prayed God to grant him eternal rest and the family the fortitude to bear the loss.
She called on Security agencies to fish out perpetrators of the dastardly act and make them face the full wrath of the law.
In the same light, Prince Nuhu Adamu Dauda, the Executive Chairman, Toto Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, has expressed shock over the demise of the state All Progressives Congress (APC) chairman, Philip Shekwo.
Nuhu Dauda in a statement he personally signed and made available to newsmen in Lafia described his death as ungodly and colossal.
“I received the news of the death of our state APC chairman, Mr Philip Shekwo as shocking and painful.
“Even though it is God that give life and take at will.
“He has contributed immensely to the development of the party, the state and the country at large while alive.
“We are praying God to give the family and the APC the fortitude to bear the painful loss.”
He sympathized with the immediate family, Toto LGA, APC party and the entire state over his demise.
He prayed God to expose the killers of Shekwo.
The statement added that the entire people of Toto LGA condemned in its entirety the gruesome murder of the state man and indigene of the area while calling on security agents to fish out the killers.
The Speaker Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Rt Honourable Ibrahim Balarabe Abdullahi also condoled with the family of Philip Shekwo the state APC chairman over his death.
The Speaker who was at the family compound of the late party chairman in Lafia also condoled with the government, APC family and the people of the state over the painful loss.
While expressing shock over the untimely death of the state APC chairman Philip Shekwo the Speaker prayed God to forgive his shortcomings and console the family and the entire state over what he described as colossal loss.
He described the untimely death of Philip Shekwo as painful and great loss to the entire state.
The frontline opposition party in Nasarawa State, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), while commiserating with the immediate family members of the assassinated party leader and the APC, said it was deeply shocked, sad and was yet to come to the reality of what it described as the gruesome, barbaric and coordinated murder of the Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), in Nasarawa State.
In a statement issued by Mr Taimako Sunday Anyuabaga, the PDP said “the killing of the State ruling party Chairman is a thing of great concern which brings to the front burner the issue of our security architecture in the State and Nigeria at large.
“We as a Party, commiserate with Hon. Shekwo’s family members, the APC family and indeed Nasarawa state in its entirety.
“While we pray that the perpetrators of this callous act never go unpunished by God almighty, we demand swift actions from the government to ensure that these murderers, whoever they are and wherever they are hiding, are apprehended by security operatives and brought to book.
“May his soul and the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace, Amen.”
The ruling political party, All Progressives Congress (APC) threw a challenge to the Police and other relevant security services to fish out the killers of the Nasarawa State Chairman of the party, Mr. Philip Shekwo.
APC in a statement by Yekini Nabena, Deputy National Publicity Secretary, decried the sad news saying:
“This is a dark day for the APC family.”
The party expressed sympathy with family of the slain APC leader, the governor Engr Abdullahi Sule and State Working Committee.
“The APC condoles with the late Shekwo’s immediate family, the Governor of Nasarawa State, Engr. Abdullahi Sule, the State Working Committee and our supporters and members over this shocking killing.
“We pray the Almighty God grants all that grieve the strength to bear this loss and also grant the late Shekwo eternal rest.
“We urge a thorough investigation by the police and other relevant security service to quickly fish out the sponsors and perpetrators of this evil, heinous and barbaric crime and made to face the full weight of the law.”
From the office of the Chairman Karu LGA, came a condolence message where the Chairman, Hon Samuel Akala GAjere said: “It is with a heavy heart, but total submission to the will of God that I write to extend my heartfelt condolences on behalf of the government and the good people of Karu local government area to the immediate family of our brother, uncle and father, the government of Nasarawa state and the All Progressives Congress (APC) family over the sudden demise of the State APC Chairman, Chief Philip Tatari Shekwo.
“We woke up in the early hours of today with the news of your abduction which later resulted in your death.
“I am still in deep shock over this sad development. your death came at a time when your fatherly role is highly needed to unite our great party the All Progressives Congress (APC) across board in Nasarawa state for peace, progress and development in the land.
“You were a man of peace who was loved by all who have encountered you, a unifying force whose wealth of experience which has continued to stabilize the system will be greatly missed.
“While we mourn, we are however consoled in God knowing our beloved brother, father, friend and colleague in the struggle for a better Nasarawa State lived a life of purpose.
“May God almighty grant your gentle soul and the souls of all faithful departed eternal rest amen.”
How kidnapped Nasarawa APC chairman was assassinated
Meanwhile, fresh facts have emerged on how Nasarawa All Progressives Congress (APC) chairman, Philip Shekwo was kidnapped and assassinated by gunmen.
Sources revealed that the assassins arrived Shekwo’s residence along Kurikyo road near Dunamis church, Bukan Sidi in Lafia around 11pm and started shooting sporadically.
The gunshots reportedly woke Shekwo, who sensing danger, was said to have made several calls to security agencies without response until he was abducted.
Mr Joseph Gudu, who lives close to the late chairman’s residence, said he monitored the incident from his window.
He said he saw how the gunmen used digger to break the door and windows of the apartment.
“The wife of the late chairman, his children and the chairman himself made several calls across the security agencies in the state but nobody responded.
“They were shouting help, help but no security person came to their aid. The police were not ready to pick their calls
“The operation lasted for about 49 minutes before they gained entrance into the bedroom of the chairman after disarming his security guards and took him away.
“If the police had responded promptly to the calls of the APC chairman, they might have saved his life.
“They took him away with his car key, killed him just a meter away from his house and hung his car key by his lifeless body,” Gudu said.
The corpse of the kidnapped APC chairman was found few meters away from his residence in Bukan Sidi, Lafia.
Police Commissioner Bola Longe, who confirmed the death of Shekwo, said he was found death with wounds of gunshots.
Longe said the circumstances that led to his death proved it was not abduction but murder.
“From what we have seen since yesterday and the intensity of bullet marked on the wall of the house and the forceful gaining of entrance into the house, it was clear it was much more than kidnapping.
“And where we found his body, near his house, normally when kidnapping is carried out it is for profit making.
“But this has shown that within a twinkle of an eye the man was killed, no demand was made whatsoever.