By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
Borno State Government, yesterday, explained that the Boko Haram havoc on the Nigerian people would have been more devastating but for its prompt intervention in arresting many of its members immediately the sectâ€™s armoury was discovered.
The Commissioner for Health, Alhaji Zubairu Shani, said in Abuja that the state government have also discovered Mohammed Yusufâ€™s slaughter chamber from where many corpses of police officers and security operatives were retrieved.
Most of the photographs brought to Abuja showed that many of the police officers were slaughtered like goats in their uniforms with their name tags clearly showing on their chests.
While some were already decomposing, others appeared fresh (at the time the photographs were taken) with injuries in parts of their bodies beside their slit throats.
â€œWhat we have read in many papers is not a true reflection of what really happened. We believe this is because many people who have written, be it stories, analysis and opinions were doing so without sufficient informationâ€, the commissioner said.
He said that although Yusuf was known to be a preacher like many other Islamic preachers in the state, there was no special relationship between him and Governor Modu Sherrif.
â€œThe truth of the matter is that there was no special relationship between the governor and Mohammed Yusuf, whatsoever.
â€œYusuf was just like any other preacher in the state over time until when he began teaching his followers to disregard government policies and even the constitution of the Federal Republic,â€ he said.
Asked why the government did not act early enough to nip in the bud, the sectâ€™s destructive moves, even after several security reports to the state government, the commissioner said Yusuf had been arrested six times and arraigned on each occasion but that unfortunately, each time, he was granted bail by the law courts.
According to him, â€œthe truth of the matter is that there were security reports on the activities of the Boko Haram sect. At a point, Yusuf was arrested. In fact, Yusuf was arrested six times and arraigned in court six times. But six times, he was also released on bail by the courts.
â€œEven as a Chief Security Officer of a state, we should appreciate that the governor had limitations, especially when a matter is already before a court of lawâ€.
On the controversy over Yusufâ€™s death, he denied the state government’s complicity, as according to him, the issue was purely a security affair handled by the Army and the Police.
â€œThe state government had no hand, whatsoever, in this matter. It was a security matterâ€, he said and added that if the governor was invited to appear before any investigation panel on Yusufâ€™s death, the governor would appear to testify.
His words, â€œas a responsible government, if there are any extra_judicial killings, the government cannot support such a thin. If the state government is invited to appear before it. Certainly the Borno State government is interested in presenting a memo before it if the panel in ground.
On the accusation that the government provided Yusufâ€™s sect land on which it was training the members, the commissioner explained that the land in question belonged to the father in_law of Yusuf.
He brought documents to prove that the land on which Yusufâ€™s house and mosque were build was allocated to Mallam Raba Fug in 1973.
Boko Haram: I Never Gave Land To Sect Leader â€“ Sheriff
Governor Ali Modu Sheriff of Borno State on Wednesday denied ever giving Mohammed Yusuf, the late leader of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram, any plot of land in Borno State .
Boko Haram, the religious group that preaches against western education and civilization unleashed mayhem in some Northern states in which at least 800 people were killed late last month.
Sheriff was alleged to have allocated 80 kilometeres of land to Yusuf for farming but which the latter turned into a training ground for members of his sect in various camps. It was also alleged that attempts by security agents to prevail on the Governor to revoke the allocation were rebuffed.
But Sheriff says the allegation was not only baseless but â€œvery malicious.â€ Speaking through the Secretary of the Borno State Government, Ambassador Ahmed Baba Jidda, the Governor said he is not aware that â€œYusuf had even a plot of land in the whole of Borno State , not to talk of Maiduguri . Eighty Kilometres of land will almost be the entire stretch between Borno and Yobe states. In fact, it will be more than five local governments put together. So, where will the Governor get such a large expanse of land and what excuse would he give for giving out such? Let anybody who claims that Yusuf had any piece of land anywhere in the entire state come out with the evidence.â€
Ambassador Jidda explained that when the report â€œattributed to a faceless security source came to our attention, the Governor ordered the relevant ministries to check their records and bring the documents.
â€œIt turned out that the land in question which was the headquarters and camp of the Boko Haram sect near the railway station in Maiduguri belonged to Yusufâ€™s father_in_law, Alhaji Baba Fugu Alhaji Mohammed, the same man in whose house he went to hide when the heat was turned on him after he had set Maiduguri ablaze. According to the documents from the Ministry of Land and Survey, it was acquired in 1973. Where was the Governor in 1973 and where was Yusuf? If he died at the age of 39, it then means he was a mere five_year_old_boy by 1973 and remember he was not an indigene of Borno.â€
The SSG further explained that: â€œFrom available records, Alhaji Fugu made an application for the grant of a right of occupancy on January 20, 1973, an application which was granted by the Borno State Commissioner of Works and Housing on January 23, 1978. The instrument was registered as No 218 at page 218 in Volume 6 (Certificates of Occupancy) of the Lands Registry in the Office at Maiduguri and the land in question is 1.173 hectares.
The Certificate of Occupancy No is NE/1422. In fact, Alhaji Baba Fugu personally signed to say that he received the original title deed on January 31, 78 . All the documents are there and most of those who were in charge then are alive, so these facts can easily be crosschecked. And if the Governor did not give the man any plot of land, how could the security people prevail on him to revoke a non_existent allocation as being reported?â€