BY NDAHI MARAMA, Maiduguri
Ninety-two year old elder statesman and first Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno, CFR, was yesterday kidnapped in Borno State by suspected members of the Boko Haram Islamic sect shortly after performing the Juma’at Congregational prayers at a Mosque in Mafoni ward in Maiduguri metropolis.
Unknown gunmen had earlier on Thursday night, killed the acting Chairman of Dikwa Local Government Area in the state, Alhaji Kachallah Umara in his compound.
Mungono’s abduction took place at about 2pm in the area said to be the stronghold of the sect members.
Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, also said it was saddened by the news that Alhaji Monguno has been kidnapped by unknown gun men in Maiduguri, adding that ‘’he is not expected to be subjected to such hardship and humiliation by any group, be it sectarian or men of the underworld.’’
A statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary of ACF, Mr Anthony Sani stressed that ‘’if, as is being bandied about, Boko Haram members are the kidnappers in order to press for the release of their detained members by the authorities, then, they are going about it the wrong way,’’ and asked ‘’the good people of Borno state to keep calm and not take the laws into their hands as the federal and state governments go as far as efforts can go in order to bring to an end, the culture of violence under control not only in Borno and Yobe States but through out Nigeria.’’
The Special Adviser on Communications to Governor Kashim Shettima, Alhaji Isa Umar Gusau confirmed the incident.
Mungono, had been a strong agitator for the withdrawal of JTF troops from Borno and at the forefront of those asking the Federal Government to grant amnesty to the Boko Haram sect. As the Chairman of Borno Elders Forum, several meetings were held in his GRA compound on the security challenges affecting the state and the north in general.
The JTF Spokesman, Lt Col Sagir Musa confirmed the abduction saying, “yes we received an information that Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno was kidnapped today (yesterday) by gunmen soon after performing his Friday prayers at a mosque in Mafoni. Investigation is ongoing to ascertain the true situation.”
An eye witness also told Saturday Vanguard in Maiduguri that, “we just performed our Juma’at prayers. I was standing in front of the mosque when Dr. Monguno was exchanging pleasantries with people, and the next thing was that, four gunmen; three with Ak47 rifles and the other with a pistol ambushed the elder statesman, fired several shots to scare the crowd before they bundled him inside their vehicle and took him to unknown destination.”
Already, Governor Shettima has summoned all Borno State elders to an emergency meeting at the elder statesman’s GRA residence to discuss possible ways of rescuing him from his kidnappers, who are yet to declare their intentions for abducting him.
Last week, the Spokesman of the Military Joint Task Force, JTF, Lt Col. Sagir Musa in a statement in Maiduguri warned residents particularly politicians, civil servants and traditional rulers among others important personalities to be wary of their safety as, according to him, the Boko Haram sect members had concluded plans to engage more in kidnapping prominent members of the society.
Sagir said, “Intelligence available to the Task Force has indicated that Boko Haram terrorists have resolved to concentrate more on kidnappings than robbery. They alleged that kidnapping is more lucrative, less dangerous and requires short time to plan and execute.
”Similarly, a special kidnapping squad has been earmarked and tasked by Boko Haram sect to kidnap persons who could be wealthy relation, politician, businessman/woman, traditional ruler, senior civil servants and foreigners alike.”
Earlier at about 7pm on Thursday, some unidentified gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram insurgents had shot dead, the acting Care-taker Chairman and Secretary of Dikwa Local Government Area, Alhaji Umara, near the Gomari Airport, leaving others present to scamper for their safety.
Umara, it was learnt, was killed by four suspected Boko Haram members who arrived his compound in an unmarked Volkswagen Golf saloon car, soon after he had completed his magrib prayers at a mosque close to his family house. He was reportedly about entering his house when his assailants opened fire on him at close range, before escaping.
Governor Shettima had last week dissolved all the local government caretaker committees in the 27 local government councils in the state, following the expiration of their six months tenure. The deceased was thereafter, appointed as acting chairman of Dikwa.
Gomari is one of the peaceful wards in Jere, near Maiduguri metropolis. The area had not witnessed any killings in the the past five months.
However, in December last year, some suspected terrorists slaughtered six people including a village head, two policemen and three other civilians in their residents.
When contacted, the state Police Commissioner, Yuguda Abdullahi told newsmen on the telephone that he was not in Maiduguri and declined further comments on the incident.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP Gideon Jubrin’s cell phones were also switched off as at the time of going to press.
However, an aide to Governor Shettima who spoke to Saturday Vanguard on the condition of anonymity said, “if Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno can be abducted by terrorists, it means the security situation in the state has gone beyond what human beings can imagine.”
Meanwhile, security operatives have cordoned off all the major streets in Maiduguri in a bid to apprehend the culprits.
When Saturday Vanguard visited the family house of Dr. Monguno at Lagos Street, GRA, about 40metres away from the Government House Maiduguri, scores of sympathisers and relatives were seen trying to gain entry into the compound, but were barred from entering by the eagle eyed security operatives deployed to the area.