Alleged Boko Haram Commander: Northern Govs call for thorough investigation

*As DSS frees Mailafiya

*Armed foreign Fulani herdsmen from Mali, Niger storms Kogi – Atte

* Borno Gov commends NAF’s response to insurgency

By Chuks Oyema-Aziken (Abuja), Pwanagba Agabus (Jos), and Noah Ocheni (Lokoja)

The Northern Governors Forum (NGF) has insisted that the claims of the Presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the 2019 general elections, Dr. Obadiah Mailafiya, alleging that a Northern governor is the Commander of Boko Haram in Nigeria, should be seriously investigated by security agencies.

This is as the former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Mailafiya, has been released by the State Security Service (SSS) after hours of drilling him on the said allegation.

Also, a former commissioner and governorship aspirant in Kogi State, Dr. Oluwayomi David Atte, has raised the alarm alleging armed Fulani herdsmen from Mali and Niger republics are ostensibly hibernating in some communities in Kogi-West Senatorial zone.

Chairman of the NGF and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, through his Director of Press and Public Affairs, said the Forum is concerned about the weighty allegation made by Dr. Mailafiya insisting they must be thoroughly investigated.

According to him, “although the Forum has been collaborating with the federal government, security agencies, community, civil society, traditional and religious leaders and development partners to defeat terrorism, banditry and other forms of crimes in the region, we find the allegation to be ‘very weighty, hence, deserves further investigation”.

Lalong added: “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 member is leading Boko Haram in Nigeria is serious allegation that cannot be swept under the carpet.

“We demand immediate and thorough investigation,” he said.

He also urged Dr. Mailafiya and indeed, all citizens with useful information on the activities of criminals and terrorist groups, to assist the security agencies and governments at all levels with such intelligence for proper action.

Meanwhile, the former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Mailafia, on Wednesday honoured the invitation of the SSS over his comments.

Before his arrival at the premises of the DSS, the vicinity was besieged by his loyalists, who came to lend moral support to him.

Our correspondent gathered that Dr Mailafiya arrived at the Plateau State Command of the SSS, Jos, along with a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Pius Akubo and the Plateau State Chairman of Nigeria Bar Association, Mr. Saleh Bawa.

It was however gathered that he was released later around 7.00pm, but it is not clear if there were conditions attached to his release.

*Armed foreign Fulani herdsmen from Mali, Niger invade Kogi

Meanwhile, a former commissioner and governorship aspirant in Kogi State, Dr. Oluwayomi David Atte, has cried out over alleged invasion be bandits he described as armed Fulani herdsmen from Mali and Niger republics in some communities in Kogi-West Senatorial zone.

He claimed that the herdsmen have taken over the bushes in several communities in Okun land, raising concerns about insecurity I nand around MopAmuro Local Government Area in particular.

He stated the invaders are brandishing a letter claiming they have the backing of government to farm in the area, adding that when accosted by hunters, the light skinned Fulani denied coming from Mali.

The elder-statesman said he, along with other leaders in the Okun Development Association (ODA) has already reported the development to members of the Kogi State Executive Council and some legislators.

“Between Akutupa community and Egboro in Kabba-Bunu LGA, there is an active Fulani Camp of close to 5,000 herdsmen,” he stated.

Atte said he raised the alarm in view of media reports that Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), is establishing vigilante groups across the country.

*Borno Gov commends NAF’s response to insurgency

Similarly, the Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, has commended the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) for their consistent response in counter-insurgency operations in Borno State and the entire North-East.

Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, the Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Nigerian Air Force, in a statement, said Governor Zulum gave the commendation on Tuesday after visiting the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar at the NAF Headquarters in Abuja.

He reiterated the commendation of the governor on the “commitment and dedication of the CAS, officers, airmen and airwomen of the NAF”, stressing that their activities have curtailed the activities of the insurgents and limited their scope of operations.

“He equally commended the NAF’s laudable humanitarian interventions in the state, including its numerous medical outreaches and the Level 2 Hospitals established by the Service at the Bama and Dalori Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camps, which provide free, qualitative healthcare services to the IDPs,” he said.

While highlighting the need for political solutions to address the root causes of the insurgency, which, he said, included poverty, illiteracy and unemployment, amongst others, the governor said there was urgent need to ensure the return of IDPs to their homes in a safe and dignified manner.

“Governor Zulum further noted that, while the state had suffered a number of attacks in the past two years or so, over 90 per cent of these had been successfully repelled through the robust, timely actions of the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE”, he said.

“In his response, the CAS noted that the NAF, in collaboration with sister services and other security agencies, would continue to work tirelessly to ensure the security of the people of Borno State and the entire North-East.

Air Marshal Abubakar said: “NAF, with the support of the Federal Government, had acquired 22 brand new aircraft and was expecting another 17 manned aircraft, while 10 Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) had also been procured and would be deployed for various operations to cover the vast 705,000 square kilometres area of the North-East, North-West and North-Central”.

He highlighted that NAF now has the Special Operations Command, as well as a Reference Hospital and the 201 Composite Group located in Bauchi.

*HURIWA tasks Malami to prosecute armed Fulani herdsmen

Meanwhile, a human rights group, the Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA), has tasked the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to prosecute all armed Fulani herdsmen so far arrested and paraded by the Police and Military since 2015.

According to the group in a statement signed by Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko (National Coordinator) and Zainab Yusuf (Director, National Media Affairs), HURIWA said that government’s failure to prosecute armed Fulani herdsmen who they claimed were arrested by security agencies, have left bizarre consequences across Nigeria.

“Armed Fulani herdsmen under the guise of cattle herders, have held Nigeria hostage, particularly the North-Central and southern parts of Nigeria, killing innocent citizens at will, maiming others, kidnapping some for ransom, destroying farm crops and constituting a terror to farmers and rural communities.

“HURIWA has noted with concern that within the past five years, this state of human rights violation has assumed striking and traumatic proportions,” the statement stated.

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