By Yahaya WAKILI, Maiduguri
President Muhammadu Buhari may have shut his doors in the face of embattled Borno state Governor, Kashim Shettima, who has been desperately seeking audience to explain his alleged roles in mismanaging the Boko Haram insurgency and corruption related activities, to no avail.
nationalTRAIL investigations reveal that the President was irked by a secret report made available to him which indicted top Borno state Government officials as well as some family members of Governor Shettima in Boko Haram related matters and some corrupt practices.
Our correspondent learnt that, only last week, the governor dragged along with him to Aso Rock one of the most revered traditional rulers from the state, in one of his attempts to get the President’s attention, but for the umpteenth time, he met a brick wall, as President Muhammadu Buhari, does not still seem impressed with all the acts being put on by Shettima to catch his fancy.
According to our sources from the villa, President Buhari, had earlier asked the Borno state helmsman to account for over N600 Billion, being funds that accrued to 22 local government Areas of the state where no activity have taken place in the last four and a half years, and which citizens have been concentrated in camps, but could not get a satisfactory answer.
Governor Shettima reportedly told the President that the funds belonging to all the areas affected by Boko Haram were intact, knowing the contrary to be the case, just as he was said to have informed the president that he spends over N600 million monthly on the upkeep of Internally displaced persons in Maiduguri, while in actual fact he spends a little above fourty million.
His quarrel with and subsequent removal from office of the chairman of the State Emergency management Agency, BOSEMA, who was directly responsible for the upkeep of IDPs did not help matters, as shortly after his embattlements, the chairman, Alhaji Grema Terab, spilled the beans, by revealing how money is being siphoned under the guise of maintaining IDPs.
As it is, eight of Governor Shettima’s former and serving commissioners are still under investigation by the Economic and financial crimes commission, EFCC, for their roles in squandering the resources of Borno State, while the governor is said to be busy selling off some of the property he acquired across the country and beyond in order to refund part of the money alleged to have been looted under his supervision.
The President had also demanded for explanations on the alleged involvement of the governor’s siblings in Boko Haram, as well as the governor’s alleged soft spot for Boko Haram elements, but again failed to obtain satisfactory explanations, only for Governor Shettima to begin pilling pressures on him to grant amnesty to Boko Haram insurgents, as was the case with the Niger Delta militants.
The governor is spending his second week in Abuja, after an earlier three weeks fruitless struggle to meet the president and prostrate before him in repentance, our sources confirmed, but President Muhammadu Buhari, seems resolved to let every man carry his cross as far as the twin issues of Insecurity and corruption are concerned, which he appears determined to fight.
Shettima was said to have reached out to the President’s chief of staff, Abba Kyari, and the national security Adviser, General Mohammed Monguno, both citizens of Borno state, to intercede for him before the President, but knowing their boss, the duo were said to have declined playing any role.
One of the Governor’s close confidants told nationalTRAIL that, the man is in a serious dilemma, as he seems to lack clues on how to best approach the President, whom, he had allegedly been deceiving in the build up to the last elections, having pitched his tent with the Rabiu Kwankwaso group, and later even subtly supported former President Goodluck Jonathan.
President Buhari, our sources said feels so embarrassed with the alleged involvement of governor Shettima with Boko Haram and the attempts by the governor to shift blames to his former boss, senator Ali Sheriff, when he knew that, Sheriff was not the culprit being sought for in the sponsorship of Boko Haram, but people who were close to the governor.
President Buhari, had in apparent show of disapproval of some of governor’s ways had turned down several boxes of textile materials sent to his family by the Borno chief executive in the build up to his inauguration last may, and has consistently refused visiting Borno in furtherance of his campaigns against Boko Haram, apparently against the background of what he knows to be going on in the state.
The President perhaps knows that, his marching orders to the military to end insurgency by the end of last year can only be effective when certain vested interests at the local level that have always sabotaged efforts at ending the mayhem are put under check. This position was further amplified by the military which alleged that certain forces were at work to sustain Boko Haram for selfish gains.
Sources in Abuja confirmed to us that, Governor Kashim Shettima, has been running from pillar to pole, trying to rally the support of Northern governors and his mentor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to secure a soft landing, in the face of what is becoming clearer that, President Buhari may go for his jugular, sooner than later.
Meanwhile, there was apprehension and an uneasy situation at the Internally Displaced Persons’ Camp popularly known as the Ali Monguno Teachers’ village following the discovery of a lifeless body of an internally displaced person last Thursday. Millions of people rendered homeless as a result of Boko Haram’s insurgency have been taking refuge in the camps pending the time their homes will be safe and habitable enough for them to go back.
Last week’s incident in which a 23 year old displaced person was found beheaded, in the same manner in which the Boko Haram beheads people, may have sent fresh jitters down the spines of IDPs even as renewed attacks by the sect have sent people living on the outskirts of Maiduguri fleeing their homes.
Abdullahi Malam Hassan, who was among the people who took the corpse of the slain IDP to the State Specialists Hospital, said people living in the camps are now more than before on red alert, and very scared, because it is being suspected that many Boko Haram militants have infiltrated the camps, and are causing havoc particularly, with the death of an innocent young man found on Thursday with his head cut off.
The fully fenced camp, located along Pompomari bye-pass near the headquarters of the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army, host about 13,000 displaced persons from Ngala and Kukawa local government areas. The two Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) of Ngala and Kukawa alongside policemen under their formations live at the camp as part of security measures long adopted by government.
In their explanations, the police said, it has recovered the body of the victim and his identity will be made public after his family is contacted. They denied reports that the body was found beheaded, saying that, the victim was found tied with bruises on his head apparently resulting from hits.
The State Governor, Kashim Shettima has expressed sadness over the incident, and ordered immediate investigations into the matter, while Executive Chairman of the Borno State Emergency Management Agency, Engineer Garba Satomi, said the police has arrested a displaced person in connection with the incident, and that more suspects are being trailed
The governor also directed officials to comb the camp in order to ensure that no displaced person has any object that could cause injury, while pointing out that government will never accept threats in any IDP camp where citizens already suffer the trauma of being displaced as a result of insurgency attacks.
This development, our correspondent reports, is coming at a time residents of surrounding villages across Maiduguri, the Borno state capital have continued to flee their homes since the attack last Sunday on Ali Dawari village by Boko Haram militants, who killed about 27 people in the village. Many residents of Dalwa, Jakkana and villages around Mafa and Konduga, have also join in the search for safe heaven.
Apparently worried by the situation, Governor Kashim Shettima pleaded with the villagers not to flee their homes particularly now that government is planning to ensure more security of life and property around the surrounding villages. He spoke with residents of Ali Dawari, where hundreds of residents have stormed Maiduguri, in search of safety, where he stressed that, it is the responsibility of government to protect their lives and property.
“You should not flee, I beg of you, we will do everything possible to protect your lives and property, I came with the garrison commander, deputy commissioner of police and commanders of Civilian JTF. I assure you they are going to deploy more personnel to the village and right now your village will be surrounded with ditches.”
Speaking earlier, the village head of Ali Dawari, Bulama Malam, told the governor that 16 males and 11 females were slaughtered in the village while others who sustained injuries were hospitalised at state Specialist Hospital, Maiduguri. He said: “As the governor has assured of more security and with the immediate digging of the ditches to surround our village, we will stay back, as most of our people don’t have any other place to go.”
This is even as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Gwoza Local Government Area of the state have contradicted recent claims by the Federal Government and the military that Boko Haram has been completely wiped out. Some of the IDPs stated that some towns are still under the control of Boko Haram terrorists.
The Gwoza IDPs on Thursday, noted that Gwoza local government and other towns within the area were still being held by the Boko Haram sect, claiming that they were being pressured by the government through the National Emergency Agency, NEMA, and the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, to return to their various communities in order to prove that the insurgents had been defeated.
Chairman of the IDPs camp in New Kuchingoro, a suburb of Abuja, Mr. Filimo Emmanuel, made this known, when Senator Dino Melaye, who is the Chairman Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, FCT, visited them as part of activities to mark his birthday.
According to him, “NEMA and the NHRC has continually told us, we will go back to our villages that Boko Haram has been pushed out of our villages, which is not true.“No military went to our villages. There is no military in Gwoza as our villages are controlled by Boko Haram. We are begging you to take our complaints to the National Assembly. You can help us to talk to the Chief of Army Staff so that he can send soldiers to our villages to flush out the insurgents. If we are able to confirm that Boko Haram has been flushed out from our villages, even, tomorrow, we are ready to go back.”
On the positive note, the military have again recorded another victory in the fight against Boko Haram as a Nigerian Air Force helicopter intercepted and destroyed trailers suspected to be carrying arms and other logistics support to the camp of the sect members.
According to a statement by Air Commodore Dele Alonge , Director of Public Relations & Information of the Nigerian Air Force, the Air Force helicopter was on armed reconnaissance mission around the Nigeria-Cameroon border, around Belel when the incident occurred.
The statement reads in part, “The recent air operation against the Boko Haram insurgents was commanded by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, from NAF reconnaissance aircraft, the King Air 350i.
“The Chief of Army Staff coordinated the various NAF platforms involved in the operation to provide close air support to ground forces, led by the Chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, as they advance from Dikwa to Gamboru Ngala”
The statement also said that the NAF 260, a Mi-24V attack helicopter was hit during the operation with one of the main rotor blades hit and damaged, whereas the pilot was able to successfully fly the helicopter back to base to land. The affected aircraft has since been repaired and is back to the theater of operation.