By Yahaya WAKILI, Maiduguri
- APC Chairman/Legislator In Fisticuff
- Govt Officials At War Over Ramadan Largesse
- Dep Gov, Commissioners, Others under Probe Over Rice Theft
The economic hardship seems to be biting harder on top Borno state Government officials as key members of the Governor Kashim Shettima’s kitchen cabinet have resorted to open altercations and fisticuff, right inside the Governor’s office over the sharing of Ramadan largesse, given by the Governor. Eye witness accounts have it that leader of the House of Assembly, Honorable Zakariya Mohammed and state APC Chairman, Ali Dallori, alias Ali Tablet, last week openly took on each other right in front of Governor Kashim Shettima, when the legislator confronted the party chairman to release money given to him for politicians, and stop playing around as if nothing was given. nationalTRAIL gathered that, the Governor released over N300 million through the party Chairman for disbursement to Government officials, party leaders and stakeholders in the state, in lieu of the usual rice and sugar given to them every year, but that the money was not quick in reaching the beneficiaries, leading to allegations that the Chairman had cornered the money for his personal use. According to our source, members of the Assembly had expected their share to be released to the house leader, but when he enquired from the Chairman where their own share was, the party Chairman took offence, and shouted him down, thereby provoking the leader, who went for his collar, and knocked him down, before he was pulled back by other officials present. Apparently embarrassed by the encounter, Governor Shettima was said to have stormed out of the office, after asking the warring parties to take the fight elsewhere, and not in his presence, even as our correspondent learnt that there may be moves to suspend the legislator from the party for unruly behavior. Our correspondent further reports that at a meeting of the party’s state working Committee on Saturday, severe sanctions against the legislator by the party were agreed, to serve as deterrent to others who are said to form the habit of challenging party officials over issues of welfare. This is even as top Government officials, including the Governor, Kashim Shettima, his Deputy, Usman Durkwa and some commissioners have been fingered as having hands in the theft of rice and diversion of other relief materials donated to IDPs across the state, an issue that is currently being investigated by the security agencies.
Initial investigations reveal that, Government officials have been in the habit of negotiating with dealers in Maiduguri, Gombe and Kano to buy off relief materials entrusted to them for distribution to IDPs, with those meant for the Southern part channeled through the Deputy Governor, Usman Durkwa, but never delivered to their destinations. Our correspondent reports that it is an open secret that, materials clearly coming from Government stores meant for IDPs are being sold the open market, which may have attracted the attention of security agencies, leading to the probes, even as some traders from Gombe and Kano were said to have been taking delivery of relief materials from highly placed Government officials. People from the southern part are accusing the Deputy Governor, Usman Durkwa, who hails from there as being responsible for the disappearance of their own relief materials. nationalTRAIL learnt that, Governor Shettima was particularly irked by remarks credited to the Deputy Governor, whom he learnt had told people earlier that all his actions were based on instructions from his Governor, even as all others being questioned claimed to have received instructions from above on the sale of the items.. Governor Shettima although has claimed ignorance of the diversions, even in the face of the seeming indictments and widespread cries by the public, remains at the centre of the storm, as youths have been openly challenging him, resulting into a physical confrontation with some of them recently. Our correspondent reports that, while relief materials worth billions of naira are being donated for the upkeep of IDP, hundreds of them are dying of hunger, as the item are being diverted by people who have been put in charge of them. Only recently, EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu had alerted on the theft of relief materials by Borno state Government officials, with a threat to get those responsible arrested, and last week some street urchins engaged the Governor and his commissioner for Justice, Kaka Shehu in a street fight, when they were accused of being part of the conspiracy to shortchange IDPs. Part of the Governors problems with the people of the state which has drastically affected his rating has been the issue of the alleged diversion of relief materials donated to IDPs by Dangote group and other donors, even as the state Deputy Governor, Usman Durkwa finds it difficult to travel home following allegations that he has soiled his fingers in the deals. Investigations reveal that, against the background that relief material worth over N2 billion may have been diverted, top Government officials have been running from pillar to pole as the Police and the Directorate of State Security services, DSS, last week waded into the matter, with a view to identifying those who have been shortchanging IDPs. Governor Kashim Shettima had told a meeting with security operatives last week that, he initially thought the allegations of theft of the rice and other materials were mere media conjectures, but events have proven that they are true. Shettima was personally at some of the IDP camps where he saw the degree of deprivations and hunger plaguing the IDPs, with some of them even dying in his presence from hunger, reports indicated.