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Governor as Boko Haram Commander: Northern govs seek probe of complicity allegation

Northern governors have called on security agencies to investigate the allegation that one of them is the Commander of Boko Haram in Nigeria. Chairman, Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, who made the demand in Jos yesterday, said the governors were concerned about the weighty allegation and urged the relevant security agencies to thoroughly probe it so as to unravel the truth.

A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, made the allegation on Monday while fielding questions from a journalist on Morning Cross Fire, a current affairs programme on Nigeria Info 95.1 FM radio in Abuja. Mailafia, who was the presidential candidate of African Democratic Congress (ADC) during the 2019 general election, said the allegation was based on testimonies garnered from some ex-combatants of Boko Haram, the terrorist organisation operating in Nigeria. He also accused the Federal Government and the Kaduna State Government of being culpable for the ongoing killings in Southern Kaduna.

Lalong said that the governors found the allegations very weighty and strange since they have been working with the Federal Government, security agencies, community, civil society, traditional and religious leaders as well as development partners to defeat terrorism, banditry and other forms of crimes in the North-East region.

“We as Northern Governors have met severally to discuss insecurity in the northern region and the nation at large where we did not only condemn the activities of terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, bandits, armed robbers, kidnappers and other criminals, but also engaged the President and all heads of security agencies in finding solutions to the problem. “To now say that one of our members is leading Boko Haram in Nigeria is a serious allegation that cannot be swept under the carpet.

We demand immediate and thorough investigation,” Lalong said. He also urged Mailafia and indeed all citizens with useful information on the activities of criminals and terrorist groups to assist security agencies and governments at all levels with such intelligence for proper action.

The governor expressed hope that the allegations was not a smear campaigns or an attempt to discourage the NGF from putting in their best to bring an end to insecurity in the northern region. He said that the Forum does not, and will not, support the activities of any criminal group, because they as governors and their families are also not insulated from the rising insecurity in the country. Lalong recalled the recent incident when the convoy of Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State was attacked by Boko Haram fighters near Baga. Meanwhile, Mailafia on Wednesday honoured the invitation of the Department of State Services (DSS) over his comments on Boko Haram and the culpability of the government in the ongoing killings and displacement of communities in Southern Kaduna.

Mailafia had arrived at the Plateau State Command of the DSS, Jos at 12:45p.m. alongside a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Pius Akumbo, and Plateau State chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Saleh Bawa. Before his arrival at the premises of the DSS, the vicinity was besieged by his loyalists, mostly members of different socio-cultural groups within the Middle Belt, including members of the Middle Belt Forum and Association of Middle Belt Ethnic Nationalities. Despite the heavy presence of DSS operatives, his loyalists insisted on remaining within the vicinity until he came out of the office of the DSS. Mailafia was released from DSS’ custody after six hours of interrogation. The DSS released him unconditionally, though Rev. Parra Mallam stood as surety after he presented an international passport. While speaking to journalists after his release, Mailafia said he was invited to answer questions based on the interview he granted recently which he alleged the involvement of Northern governors in sponsoring Boko Haram.

“I was invited by the DSS which I honoured. I was treated very okay without harassment. They asked me questions about the interview I granted which I answered them,” he said. When asked if he was still standing by his allegation, he said: “The interview is my position. If I have retracted anything, I don’t think I would be able to leave this place because the youth of this country are fed up with all these killings.” In the meantime, there are indications that the insecurity brought about by the activities of bandits have reduced drastically in the North-West part of the country. Governor of Kaduna State, Nasiru El-rufai, and his Niger State counterpart, Abubakar Sani Bello, who gave the indication, said that the development followed intensified military operations through Operation Sahel Sanity, in the region.

The governors spoke when they paid an official visit to the Nigeria Army Super Camp 4 in Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State on Wednesday. According to El-rufai, incidents of banditry and related criminality had drastically reduced in recent weeks in the North-West geopolitical zone. He said his state and the region was expecting bumper harvest from erstwhile abandoned farmlands should the status quo be maintained in the current level of security. He said initial fears by governors of states in the region was that insecurity could escalate due to activities of bandits, but that military intervention has helped calm the situation.

“Our biggest fear as governors earlier this year was the fact that the levels of banditry had escalated in our various states in the North-West and Niger State, that farming activities would be crippled which would lead to serious economic consequences for the country, leading to food shortages, food insecurity. “We hope to see better and improved security in our regions. Security has improved compared to what it used to be a few months ago, but there is still work to be done.

“The level of banditry has not gone down to zero, but has been reduced significantly. The bandits have been decimated significantly and we are very happy with that. “Because of that, we are more confident that we are likely to have a bumper harvest by the grace of God in Kaduna State,” he said. El-Rufai said that the continuation of the exercise along with other operations would bring about better and improved security in the region. He added that even though security had improved compared to what it used to be a month ago, there was still work to be done. According to him, with the plans to expand the operations across all the states of the region that need it, we are confident that we are seeing the end of banditry in the North-West and parts of the central states. On his part, Governor Bello said that with the current security reports, incidents of banditry in his state would soon become a thing of the past. Bello said there were plans to establish another military camp in his state, Niger, and that same would greatly help in putting activities of bandits in check. “I am made to understand that more camps will be coming up, one in Niger State, which I believe will go a long way towards addressing these challenges,” he said.

Bello said the new camp would improve shortage of manpower being experienced by military personnel in the state. The governor said the security situation would only get better, so that people can begin to sleep with their two eyes closed. According to him, “Very soon, we would have serene, safe environment so that economic activities will continue.” Earlier, three other governors had visited the camp during the week, where they expressed their support for the military in addressing insecurity in the region. Those that visited include host governor, Aminu Masari, as well as Aminu Tambuwal and Bello Matawalle of Sokoto and Zamfara states respectively. Representatives of the National Assembly had also visited the military camp about the same period.

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