•Arrest worrisome, says govt
The military and Borno State Government are set to clash over the detention of Chairman of Mafa Local Government Area, Shettima Mafa, for allegedly keeping a Boko Haram member in his Maiduguri home.
The state government said Mafa had been in the forefront of the anti-insurgency war and hence, could not have haboured a terrorist.
The military is investigating Mafa on accusations of allegedly hiding the suspected Boko Haram member, whose name was not given, in his home.
Mafa was arrested and detained last week, by the military for allegedly keeping the suspected militant in his Maiduguri home.
Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Lucky Irabor, confirmed to Daily Sun that Mafa is in military custody.
“The man (chairman) is in our custody; that’s all I can tell you.”
The government said the military did not arrest Mafa, insisting the council chief turned himself in and added that investigation into the matter has begun, in a statement, on Sunday, through the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Usman Zanna.
Wanna said the state government viewed Mafa’s arrest as a “worrisome twist” because the council chairman was in the forefront in the war against insurgency.
Daily Sun gathered that the suspected terrorist and the council chairman have been detained by the military. A source said “villagers alerted the military of alleged terrorist’s presence in the council chairman’s residence…”
News of a council chairman, whose local government was one of the strongholds of Boko Haram, was picked by the military for allegedly keeping a suspected insurgent in his house broke at the weekend.
He was said to have been picked from his home to the military barracks and has not been released since.
But, Zanna, in his statement, said the state government doubted Mafa’s complicity in Boko Haram activities because “the arrested council chairman had been in the forefront of assisting security operatives in the fight against Boko Haram. As such, he should not be the one being linked with the insurgents.
“If not because of media reports on this matter, the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, which oversees the affairs of the 27 local government areas, would have preferred not to make public comment over a matter that is still being investigated by our competent and patriotic military establishment involved in the fight against Boko Haram.
“It has become necessary that this statement is issued in order to put some records straight. First of all, contrary to media reports, the caretaker chairman in question was not arrested. He actually reported himself to the military command in Maiduguri after he got information that he was needed by the military.
“Secondly, contrary to reports that he was arrested at the 1,000 housing estate along Maiduguri-Damaturu Road, there was never any issue at all at 1,000 estate. The chairman lives at 505 housing estate, which is located on an entirely different route, along Dikwa and Mafa which is the way to the Chairman’s office in Mafa.
“The chairman actually reported himself to the military last week, and was detained pending the outcome of ongoing investigations being conducted by the military.
“While we do not intend to question the intelligence gathering, judgment and authority of the military, to us at the ministry, the whole development is a worrisome twist.
“It is a twist because, for years, the caretaker chairman had been known for his courage in joining hunters to go into front lines to battle Boko Haram fighters. His commitment in the fight against insurgents is known to different Army Commanders that served in Mafa Local Government Area in the last two years. The likes of Major Manga can bear testimony to this. It is mainly due to his passion for the fight against insurgency that he has been successively reappointed as Caretaker Chairman of Mafa for renewable term of six months as provided by laws of Borno State.
“The chairman is also known to champion the course of citizens fleeing from communities after attacks by insurgents. From information available to the military, the chairman recently got involved in assisting some citizens trapped in a village within his local government area and he is believed to have Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living in his residence at 505 estate like most adults in Maiduguri, Jere and parts of Konduga do have fleeing relatives and friends living with them.
“There is an information that a certain suspected member of the Boko Haram might have joined some of the citizens he helped last week, but whether he knew the identity of the suspect and deliberately hid him and for whatever purpose is what we look forward to being determined by the military.
“This investigation is particularly important to us because it affects the safety and integrity of the ministry. As we acknowledge, it would amount to sitting on a keg of gun powder if anyone dealing with the ministry, involves in harbouring any criminal, especially insurgents that have killed our parents, wives, sons and daughters in addition to sending our families out of their communities to now live with us in pains.
“We assure citizens of the 27 Local Government Areas; other concerned Nigerians and the international community that we are usually very thorough in identifying those appointed either as local government chairmen, ward councillors, traditional rulers, vigilantes and members of the Civilian JTF deployed in the 27 Local Government Areas of Borno State. As can be confirmed by security agencies, we do not engage any youth as vigilante or in the Civilian JTF unless he or she is verified by the Department of State Services (DSS) in addition to fingerprints and photographs of everyone captured into a database.
“We anxiously look forward to the outcome of the investigation while we shall abide by publicly known position of Governor Kashim Shettima that anyone found having any connection with insurgents is an enemy of Borno State and its people,” Zanna said.