By Kingsley Omonobi
ABUJA—FORMER Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Minister, Malam Nasir El-Rufai and immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Azubuike Ihejirika (rtd), Thursday, accused each other of sponsoring the deadly Boko Haram sect that has been terrorising many parts of northern Nigeria since 2011 with over 5000 people killed.
El-Rufai kick-started the accusations on his Facebook page with a post that read: “Breaking News: Sheriff and Ihejirika Just Named as Boko Haram Kingpins – Arise TV – August 28, 2014.’’
He said: “Australian hostage negotiator, Stephen Davis has just named former Borno Governor Ali Modu-Sheriff and immediate past Chief of Army Staff Lt-Gen Ihejirika (removed in January 2014) as the Boko Haram brains on ARISE NEWS.
“Davis said Boko Haram commanders that he has been negotiating with were the source of this information. The kingpins not only finance Boko Haram operations but select targets for assassination and execution. Finally, the truth about Boko Haram is coming out. Hopefully, the murderers of General Muhammadu Shuwa, the abductors of the Chibok girls, those truly responsible for the Nyanya bombings, and attempted assassination of General Buhari and Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi will be known.
“We hope the authorities will take the steps necessary to act on this revelation, and thereby discharge their duty to protect us, the citizens of Nigeria. That is just what it is, a hope!”
Reacting to the accusation, General Ihejirika countered that El-Rufai, who is a chieftain of the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, is one of the front-line commanders of the terrorist group
Speaking with Vanguard over El-Rufai’s allegation, Ihejirika said he is not surprised that this unimaginable allegation is coming from ‘one of the Boko Haram Commanders’ because “The (Commanders) including El-Rufai know where the problem is. He should stop deceiving Nigerians by trying to divert attention.”
According to Ihejirika, “When the Boko Haram operation started, supporters of the sect like El-Rufai said that there was nothing like Boko Haram and that the army was just killing innocent youths. If you also remember, not too long ago, some of their supporters including El-Rufai said that I was re-inventing the killing of the Ibos during the Biafra war following government’s determination to rid the country of terrorism.”
An obviously angry Ihejirika, who spoke on phone, said: “The likes of El-Rufai started the campaign of human right abuses in order to divert international attention from the heinous crime being committed by the Boko Haram terrorists.”
Ihejirika recalled recent allegations that he took away N48 billion, an amount of money he said is still in the coffers of the Ministry of Defence and can be verified by anybody, adding that he was not surprised that this allegation is coming from the likes of El-Rufai who started the campaign.
“The likes of El-Rufai have been supporting Boko Haram. In fact, El-Rufai and his likes are the same group of people that ensured the army did not get the requested equipment to deal with this menace once and for all, as they used their cohorts to tell the government that procuring modern equipment was not necessary.”
Recalling that the same El-Rufai went to This Day Newspaper premises to grant interview to condemn security forces for the efforts to rid the country of the senseless mayhem unleashed by the terrorists, Ihejirika said: “At the onset of this crisis, I was the first person to declare that the country was at war but a group of sponsors led by El-Rufai disagreed, saying that it was not true.
“It is the same group of El-Rufai that started the human rights abuses campaign. It was done in order to block any international assistance after the state of emergency was declared and the sect was initially tamed. That gave Boko Haram time and respite to build up again”.
Furthermore, General Ihejirika said that when the United States was to initially declare Boko Haram a terrorist organization, the same El-Rufai and his group mounted pressure on the international community, using alleged human rights abuses as campaign strategy.
The former Army Chief revealed that this same group including El-Rufai has taken further steps in support of Boko Haram, “which I cannot disclose for now”.
Shortly after his tenure came to an end as COAS, some Northern political elites started the crusade for General Ihejirika to be summoned before the International Criminal Court in the Hague claiming that he killed their sons and daughters innocently in the name of containing the rapid spread of Boko Haram insurgency in the country.
He not only established the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army with headquarters in Maiduguri, he established new Army Brigades, Counter Terrorism Schools in Kachia and Jaji as well as the Terrorism Training School.
A screenshot of El-Rufai’s post on his Facebook wall.
*See Stephen Davis’ interview on Arise News