We suspect there’s a plan to eliminate Shettima — Borno Commissioner
January 29, 2012 by SEGUN OLATUNJI

Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, has been in the eye of the storm following the renewed hostilities by the Boko Haram sect since his election into office. The governor’s ordeal has lately been worsened by the arrest of an alleged mastermind of the Madalla Christmas Day bombing inside the Governor’s Lodge in Abuja. The state’s Commissioner for Home Affairs, Information and Culture, Mr. Inuwa Bwala, spoke to SEGUN OLATUNJI on the issue

An alleged Boko Haram suspect who was the alleged mastermind of the December 25, 2011 church bombing in Madalla was arrested right inside the Borno State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja. How did it happen?

What happened was that one Ibrahim Umar Abba, an indigene of the state and a postgraduate student at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom called the Permanent Secretary in charge of the Borno Liaison office, Abuja, to say he needed to catch a flight to London the next day and wanted to spend the night in the lodge since he came into Abuja late and could not get where to lay his head. The secretary, who was far away in Maiduguri, magnanimously granted his request. But when he turned up, he came with two other persons and the security people insisted that they were instructed to give accommodation to only one person. Eventually, they allowed them, only for security agents to arrive at the lodge to arrest them the next day. And later we heard through the security agents that one of the three men was not only a Boko Haram suspect but that he was the mastermind of the Madalla bombing and that they had been trailing him.  But they did not state where they were trailing him from. However, let me place it on record that none of these people is known to the governor.

If they are not known to the governor as you have said, why did they choose the Governor’s Lodge to spend the night, why not any other place?

I think the security agents are in a better position to answer that question. But let me state emphatically that our suspicion is that the alleged Boko Haram suspect  may have been planted in the lodge to either harm our governor or it may be part of the script to rope our governor in and portray his administration as the sponsor of Boko Haram.

What gives you the impression that the whole thing might have been planned?

Look, these people are employing every tactic to rubbish the governor. They have tried to use the court and it is not working. They have also tried to misinterpret the genuine effort of the government at cushioning the effect of the Boko Haram attacks on victims and that too, is not working. Now they have infiltrated the Governor’s Lodge, all in an attempt to portray the government and its officials as sponsors of Boko Haram. However, let me remind them that no matter the amount of traps they set for him, he will be vindicated because he has always been on the path of truth. Daily, these mischief makers are busy setting up traps, trying to get through the back door what they could not get through the ballot box.

When you say ‘these people,’ which people are you referring to, the opposition in the state or who?

You know me too well and you know I am not afraid of a political fight, anytime, any day. But for now, let’s just leave it at that. However, you know the circumstances leading to the April polls. Before the elections, they tried to use the Presidency to impose a state of emergency but it still did not work. After the elections, they called for a state of emergency again, it still did not work. But these people have not given up and we are prepared for them. Nobody, I repeat, nobody can intimidate the governor. Let me make this clear, that the worst case scenario is for the court to order a rerun and I tell you, if we go to the polls 100 times, we will beat them 100 times.

Have they released some of the officials that were picked up? What are the next steps you are taking over the issue?

Apart from the three people who are not known to the governor, our other employees that were arrested have been released. Curiously, they are saying the Boko Haram suspect has escaped again (laughs). Honestly, Nigeria, is a country of the unusual, otherwise, how can any serious security agent allow such a ‘big catch’ to escape?’ Our immediate reaction to that is that these are all intrigues. The intrigues and drama of the reported escape of the alleged Boko Haram suspect does not only sound like a fairy tale, it justifies our suspicion that there may be a grand conspiracy to embarrass the governor and government of Borno State or to eliminate Governor Shettima.

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