Boko Haram: Borno Officials Flee As Military Expands Dragnet

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FG Probes How Gov Rewards Kingpins With Appointments
Council Boss Confesses Collecting 120 Heads of Cattle, N.5m As Deal
Lobby Hits Brick Wall As Irabor Remains Adamant, Buratai Gives Marching Orders

By Yahaya WAKILI,
Maiduguri Until events began to unfold in Borno State, nobody ever read any meaning into governor Kashim Shettima’s frequent references to Boko Haram elements as “ya’ana ye”, meaning being his own brothers. Not even when his siblings were alleged to belong to the dreaded sect. The arrest last week of caretaker Committee chairman of Mafa Local Government Shettima Lawan Mafa and Deputy Chairman for Bama Local Government Ba’ana Gamboye; both appointees of the Governor did people begin to understand that, earlier allegations linking State Government officials with the Boko Haram crisis and its attendant sustenance may be true after all. Our correspondent gathered that both the embattled council officials had been very close to the Governor. While Lawan Mafa is the younger brother of one of Governor Shettima’s confidants and member of the House of representative, Mahamud Lawan Mafa, Gamboye has been running errands for the Governor and his very close friend. As Boko Haram crisis draws to a close, courtesy of recent conquests by Nigerian troops, facts are emerging to the effect that, Borno State Government may have been rewarding Boko Haram apologists with juicy appointments, either to ensure they give covers to Boko Haram elements who may be in trouble, or as compensation for services rendered. While the theatre commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Lucky Irabor explained the level of involvement of the detained Borno state government officials in terrorist activities, Dss sources confirmed to our correspondent that the detained council officials have made useful confessions, including the deals they engage in with Boko Haram. Findings revealed that one of the officials have been indicted for similar activities before, but was let off the hook through the instrumentality of the state government, while another was said to have admitted being a member of the sect all along. Against the background that thousands of Boko Haram elements may have found their ways back into town having fled their operational bases in Sambisa forest, more officials of the Borno state Government may be in trouble for harbouring the fleeing terrorists, or aiding their operations. While Council Chairman for Mafa and Deputy Council Chairman for Bama Local Governments in Borno State, along with Commanders of the Boko Haram sect are being questioned at the DSS headquarters in Abuja, the Nigerian Army has also launched investigation into a bribe of N.5million and 120 heads of cattle said to have been collected by one of the council chairman from a said Boko Haram commander to shield him from justice. Investigations reveal that, the renewed attacks via suicide bombs in some soft spots across Borno state in particular were the handiworks of the fleeing insurgents who may be hibernating with accomplices, especially Government officials, who have always been suspected to be supportive of the crisis. This is even as panic spreads amongst Borno Government Officials over the development. Some officials sensing that the law may catch up with them have fled Maiduguri, while others have gone into hiding, as indications emerged that the military is expanding its dragnet to take in those who have had hands in supporting terrorist activities. This is even as attempts by top Borno State Government officials to secure the release of embattled Chairman of Mafa Local Government Council, Shettima Lawan Mafa and the Deputy council chairman for Bama, Ba’ana Gamboye from military detention for alleged complicity in Boko Haram activities, along with a king pin of the dreaded sect may have drawn the ire of the Presidency and the Military authorities. Investigations reveal that Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima has directed the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Usman Zanna and the senator Representing Borno North, Senator Habu Kyari, the member representing Mafa Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, and elder brother to one of the suspects, Honourable Mahmud Lawan, along with other top Government officials to negotiate the release of the duo. As it is, reports from Maiduguri reveal that the chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari has been in Maiduguri trying to see how the issue can be mitigated. Kyari who is said to have a soft spot for governor Shettima may prevail on president Buhari to order the release of of the detainees. Presidency sources confirmed to nationalTRAIL that, both President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai have showed interest in the matter and have directed the theatre commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Lucky Irabor to hold on to the suspects for a more thorough investigation into the issue of the involvement of Borno Government officials in aiding and abetting Boko Haram activities. Security reports had earlier indicated that, fleeing Boko Haram elements, including top commanders of the group are being shielded by top Borno State Government officials, to frustrate the war against terrorism and to sustain the crisis until the next round of elections, when they will be used as alibi in rigging elections. nationalTRAIL had exclusively reported of the culpability of top Borno State Government officials in Boko Haram activities, which led to the newspaper being blacklisted on the newsstand across the state by the State Government, thousands of copies of the paper have been seized on the orders of the state before. It may be recalled that, a Special Adviser to the Governor on Religious Affairs was once paraded on national television for complicity in Boko Haram sponsorship, while several of his confidants have been questioned over suspicion of aiding and abetting Boko Haram operations. Our correspondent reports that, Governor Shettima has also abandoned state duties and relocated to Abuja, in his desperate moves to ensure the release of the suspects, so as to stop possible revelations on the alleged involvement of top Borno State Government officials in Boko Haram activities. Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Lucky Irabor told newsmen in Maiduguri that, both council officials and the Boko Haram Kingpin arrested along with them have spilled the beans, a lot other officials may be in trouble, and by implications the Governor himself, Kashim Shettima, who has been accused of deliberately pushing for the elongation of the crisis for political reasons. Reports from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital reveals that, the caretaker Chairman of Mafa Local Government Area of the state Shettima Lawan Maina was arrested Saturday by troops of the Operation Lafiya Dole following information that the chairman was hiding one of the fleeing top commander of the Boko Haram militant in his house. Sources in the military told Our Correspondent that, the chairman was arrested along with the top Boko Haram commander, adding that, since his arrest the theatre commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Lucky Irabor has been under pressure by some top politicians both at the state and
National Assembly to release the chairman. According to our investigations, the General told the pleading politicians that, he cannot acts against his own instructions having severally warned the
public concerning the fleeing Boko Haram militants on the need to expose any individual or group of persons suspected to be one or a group of those militants dislodged at camp zero operation in the Sambisa forest.
Investigations further revealed that one of the Local Government Councilors, who happens to be a close associate of the chairman, saw and identified the commander at the residence of the chairman, as the man who killed his father during their merry days in Mafa. After discovering that, the Boko Haram commander has returned and was being shielded by the council chairman the councilor told the chairman that, he was going to report to the military, but the chairman begged and gave reasons he could not expose the man. But knowing that, the same man was the one who killed his father; he went straight to the military and reported,” our Source said. Reports further said that, the chairman, whose elder brother represents their constituency at the National Assembly, approached the chairman House Committee on Defence and some top politicians in the green chamber as well as top government officials and politicians in Borno state to intervene. However, when all that matters called and approach the theatre commander, on the release of the chairman, General Irabor was firm, and straight in defining military lines and actions in a matter as such, particularly with the several warnings issued to public and communities with regard to exposing fleeing members of the terror group now on their heels since the fall of camp zero in Sambisa Forest. While other officials, including
the Governor accepted to intercede for the embattled chairman and Boko Haram kingpin, our correspondent learnt that the chairman House of Representatives committee on Defence, Honourable Betara asked his colleagues who had pleaded for his intervention to look elsewhere as he was not ready for such risky intervention. nationalTRAIL observed that Governor Kashim Shettima has since relocated to Abuja trying to secure the release of the council Chairman, but he met a brick wall, as investigations further revealed that the Presidency has since given a marching order to the theatre commander to go after any Government official who may be implicated, and that he should hold on to the suspects already in his custody. The Commissioner for local Government and chieftaincy Affairs, Usman Zanna had tried whitewashing the council chairman, but the Military authorities did not seem impressed with his explanations, to the effect that the embattled council boss is not an accomplice of the Boko Haram Commander arrested in his house. The State Government’s explanations on the arrest of the Mafa council Chairman does not seem to cut the ice, as analyst insist that, whether he was arrested or surrendered to the military, the issue is whether he harboured the Boko Haram kingpin or not, and whether there was material inducement for him to do so.

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