Why I blame Sheriff for Boko Haram violence – Borno AG explains

Borno State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Kaka Shehu Lawan, has explained why he blamed former governor of the state, Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff, for Boko Haram violence in the North-East.

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Reacting to Sheriff’s challenge to produce facts to back his comments, the commissioner released 40 facts on what happened during Sheriff’s government.

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The Attorney General, who was a discussant on a paper entitled: “Strengthening the Justice sector: Implications and challenges of national security and economic growth” at the NBA conference, had made reference to some of the main causes of the Boko Haram violence, accusing Sheriff of insensitivity to the plight of the sect during his government.

Senator Sheriff, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Inuwa Bwala had last Wednesday warned on the consequences of any further derogatory comments about his person in connection with the Boko Haram saga, saying the former governor has directed his lawyers to write to the Attorney General as well as the Borno State government, demanding the immediate retraction of the statement and an unreserved apology, as he makes plans to drag the commissioner to court and demand N10 billion as damages.

Describing the Commissioner’s comments, as “rascally and the height of sycophancy,” Sherif’s aide said, “choosing the Bar Conference as the veritable avenue to further the agenda of his paymasters, was a sacrilege and disservice to the noble profession.”

But in a statement yesterday, the Attorney General said he blamed Sheriff  because in 2008, the state government, under Sheriff, established a special joint police and military anti-robbery squad, called Operation Flush, with the commander reporting directly to him, as against the usual military practice of reporting to the then Commander of the 21 Armoured Brigade in Maiduguri.

He also said in 2009, when the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), which had introduced a policy on compulsory use of crash helmets by commercial and private motorcycle riders clashed with members of the sect, then known as ‘Yan Yusufiyya,’ who did not wear helmets while  riding motorcycles during a funeral procession, and many of them were shot by operatives of Operation Flush, the government of Sheriff did not sympathise with the group.

“The Borno government under Ali Modu Sheriff completely disregarded that incident. The government did not issue statement to condemn the shooting or sympathise with the victims; the government did not conduct any inquiry on the shooting; the government neither visited the shot sect members in the hospital nor did it care to pay for the medication of the 17 injured sect members,” he said.

He stated that Sheriff was told, at that time, that his act of disregard for that bloody incident could be viewed by the sect as an affront, but he ignored all wise counsel, “with his government acting as if there was no incident at all.”

He said the killed leader of Boko Haram, Malam Muhammad Yusuf, had threatened a reprisal, alleging that the state government’s silence over the shooting of his members was an indication that the incident was orchestrated.

“Even while Muhammad Yusuf issued threat for Jihad, Governor Ali Modu Sheriff still disregarded the possible room to make peace with the sect,” the Attorney General alleged.

He also accused the Sheriff government of saying nothing when, on July 21, 2009, some members of the sect were arrested for being in possession of 74 empty bombshells, a large quantity of gun powder, chemicals and other components for making IEDs.  Also, the commissioner said the former governor said nothing when, on July 24, 2009, the nine arrested sect members were paraded at the police headquarters in Maiduguri with their materials for making IEDs on display by the police.

According to him, the Sheriff government said nothing also when, from 2010, the sect members, riding on motorcycles began to assassinate policemen at checkpoints and duty posts,  soldiers, government workers, politicians and attacking communities. He said shortly after winning the 2003 elections, Sheriff created the Ministry of Religious Affairs under a pioneer Commissioner, Buji Foi, who was later found to be one of the financiers of Boko Haram under Yusuf.

He alleged that Sheriff’s desperation for power and arrogance made Boko Haram to become violent.

“From the 40 chronicles here presented, what I find undoubted is that former Governor Ali Modu Sheriff’s likely desperation for power in 2003 and his arrogance were what led us to the violence of the Boko Haram insurgents that has led to the deaths of over 20,000 persons, displacement of over 2.5 million citizens and destruction of property worth N3 trillion.”

Senator Sheriff, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Inuwa Bwala had last Wednesday, warned on the consequences of any further derogatory comments about his person in connection with the Boko Haram saga, saying the former governor has directed his lawyers to write to the Attorney General as well as the Borno State government, demanding the immediate retraction of the statement and an unreserved apology, as he makes plans to drag the commissioner to court and demand N10 billion as damages.

Describing the Commissioner’s comments, as “rascally and the height of sycophancy,” Sherif’s aide said, “choosing the Bar Conference as the veritable avenue to further the agenda of his paymasters, was a sacrilege and disservice to the noble profession.”

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