Monday, October 22, 2012

Joint Task Force arrest Boko Haram leader

The senator accused by the Joint Task Force (JTF) of harbouring a top Boko Haram commander in his personal residence in Maiduguri, Ahmed Zanna, told a select group of senior reporters in Abuja yesterday that the arrest was actually effected in the residence of a former governor of Borno State.

"Contrary to the claim of the JTF, the boy, Shu'aibu Bama, was arrested in a house at Rabi Street, off Damboa Road," said Zanna.

As to why the JTF would seek to frame him up as he claimed, the senator, who represents Borno Central in the Senate, said: "It obviously was as a result of an interview I granted the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) last week asking for their withdrawal from the state because they are not working according to the rules of engagement.

"I noticed that they are just killing innocent people, killing them unnecessarily, harassing their families, extorting money. All these have been going on and I became so concerned. Particularly, the killing and burning of houses became the order of the day."

Explaining the extent of havoc allegedly wreaked on Borno by the JTF, the senator said: "At least 300 houses were burnt within the last one and a half months. And it will not be an exaggeration for me to say that up to 500 people were killed by the bullets of the JTF.

"I called for their withdrawal because even Boko Haram cannot do more than that. If they have come to protect us, they are not supposed to eliminate our young ones. Most of the people affected are young ones."

Senator Zanna said from the information he got two days ago, the "JTF has also started killing old men. Somebody who was about 70 years old was even killed. He was sitting down listening to a radio and a JTF man came and he said, 'Baba come'. So, they just took him to a certain distance and shot him. This is the type of things happening. So, my people are helpless. This warranted me to react.

Answering a question as to what exactly transpired when the JTF personnel went to his house, Senator Zanna said: "On Thursday (last week), they went to my house. At that time, I was in Warri on an oversight function of the Senate. My wife called me, saying soldiers were at our gate. Actually, they went with four armoured vehicles and about 40 of them came to my house.

"They searched all the rooms and when they went to the children's room, they broke all their cabinets and searched everywhere. When they could not find anything, they assembled all the boys in my building, took them out and put them under the scorching sun. Actually, before doing that, they beat them up; we had to take them to hospital later.

"Under this traumatised condition, they now asked them whether they knew one Shuaib Bama. They said of course they knew when they saw him.

"One of them was asked to go and show them where he was living. As they were going, when they were about to reach the house, they stopped. In fact, they blindfolded the boy. And one of the officers asked one of the personnel to come down so that they should follow him to the house without the boy telling them where the house was.

"So, as they started going, the other officer sitting down asked him, 'If you know the house, then, why should we pick this boy?' And after some arguments, they went to the house and arrested the boy.

I reacted because they said they arrested the boy in the house of a serving senator along Damboa Road and I am the only legislator living along Damboa Road."

With self-assuredness, the senator retorted: "I really do not understand why they did all these. I am confused. If they want to frame me up, they have failed in that one because they did not get that boy in my house. I have nothing to do with it. Let them go and ask the person where the boy was staying. So, they should not have mentioned my house.

On his actual relationship with Shu'aibu Bama, the senator said: "Yes, he is my sister's son. As for his behaviour, he is a drug addict. He beats up my children, he abuses my friends. He came to my house, so I sent him away. That was almost a year ago. And for whatever reason I don't know, he came to my house last week and I told my wife that he should leave the house.

"Actually, he is a drug addict as I told you. Sometime ago, he even threatened to kill his mother. So, the mother was not even feeling comfortable living with him. And she narrated that to me. That is why I also do not want him to be near me.

"I don't know him to be a Boko Haram member. Never, never! I do not know him to be a member of Boko Haram.

"Since my house was searched and the JTF made the announcement, I have not been contacted by security agencies. But it was only this morning (Sunday) I saw a text that the SSS DG will want to see me on Monday. I will honour the invitation . What I am suspecting is that they want to frame me up. I am going to honour the invitation to clear my name and that of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria."

Northern governors bemoan worsening security situation

Following renewed mass killing of innocent people recently in Potiskum and Dogon Dawa in Yobe and Kaduna states, the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) at the weekend called on all terrorist groups to give peace a chance.

The NSGF said, in a statement, that the senseless killings of innocent citizens in the last two weeks in various parts of the country negated all efforts to restore peace to the country, especially in the north.

The forum appealed to terrorist groups in the country to sheathe their swords, saying that reverting to attacks and other acts of violence after weeks of reprieve would not advance the cause of peace.

The chairman of the forum and governor of Niger State, Dr Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu, made the position of the forum known in a statement signed by his chief press secretary, Danladi Ndayebo, yesterday in Minna.

The statement stated that the forum expressed serious concern at the renewed attacks on citizens: the murder of 34 persons in Potiskum, Yobe State, on Friday, as well as the 22 people killed at Dogon Dawa village in Kaduna State a fortnight ago.

Aliyu said, in the statement, that the forum was particularly alarmed at the shooting which led to the death of 14 persons in Plateau State penultimate week; the same pattern followed during the killing of 40 students at the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi, Adamawa State.

The statement recalled that, earlier in the month, there was the murder of two road safety marshals in Kano and four students of the University of Port Harcourt.

It said the overall implication of the rising wave of murders of Nigerians is that the security situation in the country is worsening and people are increasingly willing to resort to violence to settle their differences.

The statement reads in part: "We are worried that the security nightmare currently confronting the nation is capable of scaring off investors from Nigeria and putting the country on the travel advisory list of many countries around the world, thus dimming the country's economic prospects."

The forum, however, commended security agencies for the success recorded so far, but urged them not to relent, saying the little success recorded should motivate them to do more.

It said northern governors were working closely with their colleagues from the south and the federal government, knowing full well that the raison d'ĂȘtre of any government is the welfare and security of its citizens.

Why FG must dialogue with Boko Haram - Shonekan

Former interim head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Nigeria, Chief Ernest Shonekan, has given reasons why the federal government must dialogue with the leadership of the Boko Haram sect.

Shonekan said the country would not make any headway in its economic transformation agenda, unless the insecurity that has pervaded the environment is tackled and the youths provided with gainful employment.

Shonekan made this declaration at the weekend during the graduation ceremony of the 48 participants of the Executive Intelligence Management Course, EIMC, held at the Institute for Security Studies at the Lower Usuma Dam, Abuja. He also raised the alarm about imminent mass migration resulting from the food shortage caused by climate change and drought.

The former head of state, who was chairman of the occasion, pointed out that the way forward for the country was to engage all the militant groups in the country in a robust dialogue to make them see reasons why they must eschew violence.

Shonekan said: "National security is perhaps the most important issue on the front burner of the government and every well-meaning Nigerian today. It is also for this reason that this course was put together to expose participants to security issues and to enable us find solutions to the insecurity in some parts of the country.

"Safety of Nigerians and their property and safety of the economic resources of the country are part of the constitutional duties of the government. It is obvious that a country where there is insecurity of life and property cannot experience sustained economic growth or socio-economic and political transformation.

"It therefore behoves all of us to team up to find a lasting solution to the current insecurity so that we can achieve peace and stability in the polity and sustained growth of the economy. The Boko Haram disturbances in parts of the country, oil thefts by militants in the Niger Delta and the crisis in Plateau State are indications of the level of insecurity in the country."

"One of the immediate steps that we must take is to dialogue with the leaders of those who are perpetrating insecurity in the country. They are Nigerians and we must find ways and means of engaging them in robust dialogue to make them see reason and eschew violence."

The director-general of the Department of State Security, Mr. Ekpenyong Ita, admonished the graduates drawn from all the security agencies as well as some government establishments to deploy their newly acquired know-how to improve the country's security situation, noting that they were graduating at a time when the country was facing complex security challenges like kidnapping, oil theft, piracy, violent crimes and terrorism.

"I do not think that this nation has ever faced a more fluid, more dynamic or more complex threat situations as what is currently being faced, particularly terrorism. The goal is to cause maximum chaos and provoke the other side into desperate over-reaction," he said. "This is a war we have paid the supreme sacrifice for and have no alternative except to sustain the current tempo in order to ensure ultimate victory."

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