As President Muhammadu Buhari and other Nigerians agonise over Boko Haram terrorism and how to end it, a scenario similar to the betrayal of Jesus Christ by Judas Iscariot appeared to have played out as one of the 19 northern governors was accused of being the godfather of the Islamist group.
Daily Times monitored a former Deputy Governor of the CBN, Dr Obadiah Mailafia, talk during Morning Crossfire, ’a programme on Nigeria Info Abuja 95.1 FM, where he said: “I have met with some of their high commanders. They have sat down with us, not once, not twice.
They told us one of the northern governors is the commander of Boko Haram in Nigeria. Boko Haram and bandits are the same.” Following Mailafia’s claim, the Department of State Services (DSS) has since called him to its Jos, Plateau State office for interrogation.
DSS in July had issued a statement saying it “uncovered plans by some persons and groups desirous of taking advantage of latest developments in parts of the country to destabilize it.”
It went on: “Some prominent personalities and socio-cultural groups have resorted to divisive acts through inciting statements aimed at pitting individuals, groups and ethnic nationalities against another. The Service is, without doubt, aware of these plans and their sponsors.
“Consequently, it warns that it will no longer tolerate the orchestrations by subversive and unscrupulous elements to cause a breakdown of law and order in the country. “In this regard, it is working assiduously with relevant authorities and sister security and law enforcement agencies to ensure that the sinister objective is not achieved.”
The DSS further reiterated it “commitment to the internal security of Nigeria and will, within the confines of the law, decisively deal with planners of the mayhem.” But this is not the first time prominent members of society have been accused of complicity in the nation’s insecurity.
While the All Progressives Congress (APC) was in opposition in 2014, a former Borno State Governor Ali Modu Sheriff was accused by Stephen Davis, an Australian negotiator, hired by the Federal Government to facilitate the release of 200 hundred schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram, of being a black sheep.
Denying the claim, Sheriff was quoted as saying: “The posers here are: why was the face of the said Davis not shown in all three interviews he granted? Of what particular interest has the said Davis in the politics of Nigeria that he rose in defence of prominent APC leaders? Is the Australian a negotiator, an investigator, or an anti-graft agent, a reporter, a judge or a mere gadfly?
“My defection from the APC (to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party) seemed to have galvanised my detractors who have converted the matter into a political weapon. Even as the brain behind the whole charade, the APC in its seeming desperation to retain my membership went rather too far in its political mudslinging. I consider it most uncharitable for the party, to use me as an alibi for the obvious culpability of some of its members.
“As you all are aware, my name is being mentioned for obvious political reasons as a culprit over the unfortunate happenings in Borno State and some parts of the country, especially from the 2009 Boko Haram episode to date. I must say that I have been utterly embarrassed by some of the negative comments, insinuations and unfounded accusations which were clearly misdirected, narrow and mischievous.”
In 2019, a committee set up by Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle to curb the menace of banditry had issued a report which indicted five emirs, 33 district heads and several village heads of complicity. Chaired by Mohammed Abubakar, a former Inspector General of Police, the committee claimed it had material evidence of the accused person’s involvement.
Ten soldiers, some policemen and civil servants were also said to have been involved in aiding the bandits. Like Mailafia’s allegations, no names were mentioned. Mailafia’s claims come against the backdrop of repeated arguments and counter-arguments by political watchers for sacking of the nation’s service chiefs, who have been accused of incompetence in handling insecurity.
It also comes amid persistent killings of innocent civilians in Southern Kaduna. But Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF), Plateau State’s Simon Lalong has issued a statement calling for an immediate investigation into Mailafia’s claims.
The statement reads in part: “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.”
The 19 governors that make up the NGF are: Bello Matawalle (Zamfara), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Abubakar Bagudu (Kebbi), Aminu Masari (Katsina), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Mohammed Badaru (Jigawa), Abubakar Bello (Niger), Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa), Samuel Ortom (Benue), and Babagana Zulum (Borno). Others are: Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), AbdulRahman AbdulRazak (Kwara), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Darius Ishaku (Taraba), Mai Mala Buni (Yobe), Simon Lalong (Plateau) and Muhammed Yahaya (Gombe).
Meanwhile, Matawalle on blamed selfish interest of the political class as one of the major causes of insecurity in the country. The governor who was with his Sokoto State counterpart, Aminu Tambuwal, disclosed this in an address as Special Guest at the Army Super Camp in Faskari, Katsina State.
“In fact, we, the politicians, are to be blame for the intractable security challenges bedeviling our communities,” he said.
According to him, it has become evident that some politicians exploit insecurity for political gains. He therefore urged the military to fish out such unscrupulous politicians.
“They will hardly commend the military for the successes at the battlefronts, however, they will be eager to rush to the media to report attacks by bandits or other miscreants.
“For this crop of politicians, politics is not about genuine commitment to the wellbeing of the people; it is all about power and nothing more. I, therefore, urge the security agencies to deal decisively with anyone found politicising security no matter how highly placed he is. It is by so doing that we can significantly address the current security challenge confronting not just the North-West, but the entire federation,” he said.
He further urged patriotic Nigerians to support efforts in ending the current security challenges, stressing that security should be everyone’s concern, not just the responsibility of the President, governors, service chiefs and security agencies. Also speaking, Tambuwal commended the efforts of the army in the fight to end banditry and other forms of insecurity in the North West. Tambuwal said that Sokoto State has witnessed farmers returning to their farms while those who left their villages as a result of attacks have started going back to their homes.
“Sokoto is gradually returning to peace especially the eastern part where we have had many challenges of banditry, cattle rustling and kidnapping. If we can have more and more of this, we will soon end this issue of insecurity,” he said.
Tambuwal said the military needed more funding in terms of equipment and welfare besides conventional budgetary appropriation by the national assembly. He explained that northern governors have agreed to adopt the carrot and stick approach in addressing banditry and all forms of insecurity in the region.
Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, conducted the governors round the camp and briefed them on the operations of the troops against banditry in the region. The GOC 3 Division, Maj.-Gen. Nuhu Angbazo, thanked the governors for their confidence in the Nigerian army to stem the tide of banditry in their respective states.
Angbazo also commended the governors for their support for the troops and cooperation that has made Operation Sahel Sanity a success. He said the support of the governors has boosted the efficiency of the operations to end the scourge of banditry in the region.