By Akan Mkpong
The impact of the news that a high profile Boko Haram commander has been arrested is felt in the sensational revelations and confessions of a serving senator, Ahmed Khalifa Zanna, and a former governor and chairman of a reputable political party, senator Modu Sheriff. On 20th October, 2012, the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) operating in Borno state was armed with four armoured vehicles and about forty foot soldiers to storm the dwelling place of senator Zanna, and succeeded in catching a big fish in the person of Shuaibu Mohammed Bama, the celebrated commander. The war of words was traded to fence off suspicion to the intent that none of the duo has anything to do with Boko Haram or its fallen hero; yet, they are done in!
In his interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), aired in Hausa language and a press briefing by senator Zanna last week, the senator accused the JTF of dehumanizing treatment to civilians in the name of fighting Boko Haram and called for their withdrawal from the state. But the JTF became undaunted by carrying the battle to where it mattered most: Zanna’s household; and was led to a supposed hide-out, a house reputed to be owned by both or either of Zanna or Sheriff where Bama was picked.
Without provocation, and like water flowing freely from its course, Zanna confessed that Senator Ali Modu Sheriff is the “architect of Boko Haram” and, the actual owner of the house which shielded Shuaibu Bama. But in a counter press interview on Monday the 22nd of October, 2012, Governor Sheriff debunks the allegations and fetes senator Zanna as the “kingpin of Boko Haram”, its trainer and defender.
The confessions were involuntary yet voluntarily made. The politicians’ degree of involvement in Boko Haram would not have been known easily and willingly yet they poured out freely, easily and willingly too! In exposing Zanna as the kingpin, trainer and sponsor, Sheriff is directly stating the obvious not just accusing him of being a member.
The implication of this is that the former Governor himself has had good knowledge of the activities of Boko Haram, its sponsors and their bases all along but concealed this information. Is it not an offence to conceal information? Who among the two was earlier implicated as a groomer of touts that gave birth to Boko Haram? To this, Zanna says that Boko Haram is in phases: the political Boko Haram; the actual Boko Haram; and, the chippers-in Boko Haram.
Aside mere rhetorics, Sheriff is not taking the matter lightly.
He points at Zanna as an unrepentant illegal importer of arms, as a recruiter of hapless Nigerians on a seemingly religious voyage whose recruits have been traceable to Syria and Afghanistan terrorists camps! In the name of enlisting his “army” of loyalists referred to as “Hajj-by road”, Sheriff says that Zanna uses the ploy of religion to train his recruits which he also exports. What further evidence is needed against Modu Sheriff’s unequivocal assertion that he can “authoritatively confirm” that the Boko Harm commander, who doubles as Zanna’s nephew was still in contact with Zanna up to the time of his arrest? Sheriff has queried why Zanna never for once attempted to condemn the activities of Boko Haram but relishes in attacking the JTF!
In a similar vein, Sheriff dropped another bomb: he posits that the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) is enmeshed in Boko Haram since Zanna is the second sitting senator within its fold to be so fingered. This last assertion is pregnant with meanings! Apart from making the gladiating senators birds of the same feathers, Sheriff has actually confirmed what led to the sacking of the erstwhile National Security Adviser, General Azazi. Was it not Azazi who daringly linked PDP to the dreaded sect?
He was accused of biting the finger that fed and sustained him in the PDP led government and was booted out of office in consequence. Azazi reasoned well, perhaps! On this last point, PDP will rise to kill the revelation or make a soft landing “for their own” as the case was in the “Lawangate”.
So far, it might appear as though Sheriff has got the upper hand in the revelation blame game. A good and unbiased judge would carefully listen to the weight of the argument advanced by both parties before making his judgment. While Zanna accuses Sheriff of being the architect, Sheriff maintains that Zanna is the trainer of Boko Haram.
Zanna buttresses his point by submitting that it was Sheriff that ordered the execution of the well known leader of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf so that his track record of promoting the sect clandestinely would not be exposed. Is this a mere accusation coming from a serving senator? By no means! If both are members of the dreaded sect and are busy exposing themselves then the half has never yet been told! Nigerians would soon realize that there is no how both politicians would have continued to dominate Borno politics without supporting, influencing, directing, coordinating or dictating to Boko Haram. No Governor or senator wins election in Nigeria without the use of thugs or mercenaries!
Zanna places Sheriff as the ultimate commander of Boko Haram and also asserts that Sheriff is the chief security officer of Borno state as against the person of the governor as provided for by the constitution.
Zanna says that if Sheriff sits on a chair in a gathering, Governor Shettima would be so unworthy to sit beside him except to squat on a mat! He cited an example where the Deputy Governor lamented publicly the littered corpses of Boko Haram members only to be forced to recant the statement by saying that what he saw was not corpses but people sleeping. This means that though Shettima is in the All Nigeria Peoples’ Party (ANPP), he rules or manipulates the PDP Governor at will.
The other hidden truth about the impasse is that both men are capable of getting information on the spot about anything they want whether in government circles or about their interests.
President Jonathan, while speaking in the church service at the Ecumenical Centre in Abuja to mark the Armed Forces Remembrance Day at the beginning of the year, did remark that Boko Haram had infiltrated the rank and file of government institutions. That included the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. Information about the top politicians, the secret service, government, both federal and states as well as Boko Haram are at their disposal.
Investigation has proved that it is Zanna that passes secret information of government to Boko Haram. And, when Shuaibu Bama was about to be arrested, Zanna was posted every detail including how the soldiers were engulfed in a squabble as to the knowledge of their colleague on the wherewithal to the Boko Haram’s hiding place or residence. Zanna gave the graphic detail of it all.
In order to nail Sheriff in the head, Zanna has placed no one in doubt as to the rightful ownership of the property in dispute. He shows that the said house was owned by a Cameroonian who sold the property to one Tijjani Banti from whose hands Sheriff bought the property. In this wise, he has lightened the work of the investigators.
If the SSS is not able to unravel the ownership of that house as belonging to Sheriff even as claimed, it is just that they are daft and displaying nothing but ignorance. If what Zanna says is true, then Sheriff is a bona fide member of Boko Haram. Again in trying to portray the gallantry of the JTF in bad light, Zanna stupidly showed that he too is a sponsor of Boko Haram. How? He admitted giving N1.5 million to Boko Haram same day as claimed by the soldiers. In another breath, he confessed that the person he gave one million naira was his aide but not Boko Haram. If you claim to send one million naira to your aide and the same money is the one you sent to Boko Haram, then your aide is a Boko Haram member and you, the sponsor!
Zanna has confessed that his nephew, Shuaibu is a drug addict who threatened to kill his mother, beat up his children and got thrown out of his house a year ago. Was he thrown out to go and kill members of the public? Did you report a drug addict to the police? If indeed Zanna has been communicating Shuaibu as alleged by Sheriff, then Zanna is a blatant liar and co-conspirator with Boko Haram.
Zanna as an accomplice in crime does not see anything wrong with another serving senator: Mohammed Ndume, whom he claims is being framed up. Framed up with many names of Boko Haram members in his hand-set? If Zanna can prejudicially defend Ndume who is appearing in the court of law for crimes against the state, then the quality of representation in the senate is suspect!
The truth is that the army has not failed the nation. If the JTF did not use military fiat to enter Zanna’s house, none of the gladiators would have come out to accuse the other. Who among the duo thought it wise to inform the security operatives if not for the JTF’s action? Who among the duo would claim he is a friend of the people seeing that so many souls have been wasted with their connivance? Sheriff has maintained that till date, 27 of those Zanna’s recruits are still missing? Where are these boys? Have they been offered as sacrifice ritually; killed out-rightly; or exported as mercenaries? Can this allegation be pushed aside?
The position of this medium is that the military command be mandated to undertake the scrutiny of these allegations seeing that terrorism is a treasonable offence and the judiciary cannot be relied upon to do justice as occasion demands. God has come down to help Nigeria and the leadership should not fail the led. To God be the glory!