By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, AbdulSalam Muhammad, Victoria Ojeme & Ndahi Marama
LAGOS —The Boko Haram sect has cited the stoppage of its monthly financial support for the recent attacks on northern states, claiming that the group was until recently being bankrolled by some northern governors.
The claim by the group came as it also alleged that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was in its firing range last September but was spared because of his tolerance of the sharia Islamic code during his presidency.
An unnamed high ranking official of the group alleged that the Ibrahim Shekarau administration in Kano made a monthly N10 million donation to the group while the Bauchi Governor, Alhaji Isa Yuguda besides financial commitments was also an admirer of the military prowess of the group.
The group has, nevertheless, dismissed any personal grouse with President Goodluck Jonathan, alleging that the problems with the administration were carryovers from what it claimed to be the callousness of the Yar‘Adua administration in waging war against the group.
The allegations were made by a high ranking official of the group to the online publication 247ureports.com.
Mr. Michael Ishola, Chief Press Secretary to the Bauchi State Governor, Alhaji Isa Yuguda, however, debunked the claim as a “very, very strange allegation.”
The newly appointed Special Adviser (Media) to the Kano State Governor, Mallam Halilu Dantiye on his part, claimed ignorance of any monthly payment to the group by the Ibrahim Shekarau administration which the present administration succeeded as he claimed that there was no such issue contained in the handover note.
Noting that the attacks on Kano and Bauchi arose from the stoppage of the financial support to the group by some northern governors, the official in the disclosures to the publication said that the entire northern governors have ongoing relationships with the group.
“Most of them pay us monthly to leave their states alone”.
It was alleged that the Shekarau administration reached an agreement as far back as 2004 to be paying a monthly support of N5 million to the group which was later raised to N10 million sometime in 2009.
The agreement also reportedly included infrastructural support. The support was, however, allegedly stopped at the inception of the Kwankwaso administration in May 2011.
The publication alleged that the Kwankwaso regime also turned against the group dismantling its infrastructure in the state.
“We warned the Governor of the consequences. We concluded on Kano in December 2011,” the source said. Shekarau’s spokesman, Sule Yau did not respond to the allegations yesterday as he did not respond to a text message sent to him. Mallam Dantiye Special Adviser to Governor Kwankwaso claimed ignorance of the alleged support saying that nothing like that was contained in the handover note received from Shekarau.
On Bauchi, the publication reported that Governor Yuguda reached a similar agreement with the leadership of the group for the payment of N10million monthly to the group alongside the provision of training grounds on the many mountains scattered in Bauchi State. The governor it was reported also promised to give them security against arrests by the federal government. The agreement was supposedly reached in June 2008 but mid 2011, the governor reportedly stopped the disbursement of the funds.
Mr. Michael Ishola, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Yuguda also refuted the allegation against Governor Yuguda. “It is a very, very strange allegation, because the Isa Yuguda I know cannot be involved in such an allegation. We in Bauchi have been living in peace. We are not involved in that,” he told Vanguard yesterday.
Why we didn’t kill Obasanjo — Boko Haram
While noting the group’s reservations on the mediation initiated by President Obasanjo with the group through Babakura Fuggu, in-law of Mohammed Yusuf, the slain founder of the group, the publication disclosed that the new leader of the group, Imam Abubakar Shekau, had considered priming Obasanjo for assassination as the September 15, 2011 exchange approached.
According to the publication: As Obasanjo concluded his secret meeting the previous day at the Green House with three other religious group [Jamatu Nasirl Islam, JNI and CAN] in Jos, the capital of Plateau State on the Wednesday of September 14, 2011, and took off the following day to Borno State, the terrorist group, according to the source, marked the former President within their ‘firing range’ from the moment he landed in Borno State at minutes after 11am till he departed the State in the late afternoon of the same day. According to the source, “we were not sure of him”.
“He was going to be a big catch” said the source who explained that the leadership halted the operation as Obasanjo went inside the residence of Babakura.
“Obasanjo was good to us. We had no problem with Obasanjo. We had him. We could have taken him out”, as he recalled that the sharia movement took off during the period when Obasanjo was president. “The problem started during the late President Yar’Adua regime. Goodluck only inherited the problem. We have no problem with Goodluck. But his Ijaw people around him are deceiving him”.
JTF kills 4 Boko Haram members in Maiduguri
In a seeming fight back, the Joint Task Force (JTF), “Operation Restore Order” in Maiduguri, Borno State claimed success in gunning down four operatives of the Boko Haram sect in the town. The four were reportedly killed yesterday in Pompomari ward of Maiduguri , the Borno State capital.
According to a Press statement signed by the Field Operations Commander of the JTF, Col. Victor Ebhaleme the quartet was apprehended along with bomb materials.
He said: “Four members of the sect involved in the killings in Maiduguri metropolis and its environs and have been under the surveillance of security agencies were shot dead”.
The statement further claimed that, various Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) materials prepared for detonation were equally recovered from their Golf Saloon car.
The statement further warned those still harbouring the sect members to desist from such acts, urging them to report all suspects to security agencies for prompt action
Nigeria, US join forces against Boko Haram
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s effort to combat the activities of the Boko Haram sect received a boost yesterday as it resolved to collaborate with the United States in the fight against the group.
The meeting between the two countries held under the aegis of the US-Nigeria Bi-national Commission had US Deputy Assistant Secretary, Mr. William Fitzgerald leading the American side, while the Nigerian side was led by the Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Martins Uhomoibhi in company of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Andrew Azazi (Rtd.)
Both the Nigerian and US officials met in Abuja to formalize a response to the general insecurity in the northern part of Nigeria. Before retreating to a closed door meeting, Fitzgerald disclosed that, due to the intensity of the insurgent activities in the North, the security working group was split into two, with one group focusing exclusively on tackling the Boko Haram menace, while the other would focus on security of the Niger Delta region.
He said: “Today marks a new beginning, security issues in the North have taken up new significance, so we have chosen to split the regional security cooperation and the Niger Delta. The regional security cooperation has its own working group which will meet today (yesterday) and tomorrow (today).”
“I bring on behalf of the US government, the deepest condolences on the heinous attacks that have taken place during the past few days first in Kano and then Bauchi State. We deplore swiftly the reign of terror that has existed in the north of the country for many months. And we stand with you to work together to find a way to bring peace to the north,” the US envoy added.
Ambassador Adefuye was quoted as saying that “the United States government has proposed that the Niger-Delta and regional security component of the commission be split into separate entities and the first meeting on regional security should hold immediately on 23 and 24 of January. We have agreed to this proposal.
“We are receiving adequate support and assistance from our international friends without compromising our independence and freedom of action.”