Former Borno State Governor Ali Modu Sheriff
By Tokunbo Adedoja
Senator Ahmed Khalifa Zanna, the lawmaker in whose house a member of Boko Haram was reportedly arrested on Thursday, Sunday claimed that the suspect was nabbed in the house of former Borno State Governor Ali Modu Sheriff’s home.
His claim is coming on the heels of an invitation sent to him by the State Security Service (SSS) to appear at its office in Abuja Monday morning for questioning.
The senator, who represents Borno Central Senatorial District, confirmed that he received a text message on his phone on Sunday morning from the SSS office at the National Assembly to meet with the agency’s director general Monday.
Zanna admitted that the suspect, Shuaibu Bama, is his nephew, but said that contrary to reports, he was arrested in the house Sheriff, who is a former senator.
Though Zanna’s name was not mentioned by the military Joint Task Force (JTF) as the owner of the house in which the suspected Boko Haram member was nabbed, its spokesman, Sagir Musa, had said: “Shuaibu Mohammed Bama, who had been on the wanted list of terrorists, was arrested by the task force troops in a serving senator’s house”.
Defence spokesman, Col. Mohammed Yerima, told THISDAY Sunday night that the military stands by the statement earlier issued.
“What do you want me to say, we have issued a statement, I mean the JTF statement. Did he not tell you that the suspect is his nephew. We stand by our statement,” Yerima said.
Sherrif, who was defeated by Zanna in the Borno Central Senatorial election, could not be reached Sunday night for his reaction.
Speaking in Abuja Sunday evening, Zanna alleged that while his own house is located on Damboa Road, the suspect was arrested in Sheriff’s house located on Rabi Street, about a quarter of a kilometer from his own house.
Zanna said: “It was in Rabi Street and then the house belongs to Senator Ali Modu Sheriff. I reacted (to the arrest) because they said a serving senator and on Damboa Road. I am the only person (senator) who lives in that area. So, I don’t really understand why they did all those things. I am confused.
“If they want to frame me up, then they have failed in that one because they didn’t get that boy in my house. So, I have nothing to answer for that one. Let them go and ask the person, where the boy is staying, I mean the person who owns that house. They shouldn’t have even mentioned my house.... I seek your indulgence to tell the world the truth”.
The senator, while insisting that he was sure that the house in which the suspect was nabbed belongs to former Governor Sheriff , said the particular house on Rabi Street, which is of Damboa road, is known to everybody in that area as the former governor’s house.
“Before, its belonged to one Abba Mala from Cameroon and later he sold it to late Tijani Banki, and Sheriff bought it from Tijani Banki,” he said.
When asked if he knew that Bama was a member of Haram or was on the wanted list of security agencies, Zanna said he never knew that the suspect had any link with the militant sect and was never informed that he had been declared wanted by any of the security agencies.
“I don’t know him to be a member of Boko Haram. I know him to be a drug addict,” he said.
Responding to a question on the kind of relationship between them and whether the suspect lived with him at any time, the senator said: “He is my sister’s son. He came to my house, when his behaviour...., actually he is a drug addict. He beats up my children, he abuses my friends, I sent him away about, almost a year.”
He however said the suspect came to his house last week and he (Zanna) told his wife that he should leave his house immediately.
On whether he and his sister made efforts to dissuade him from his bad ways, said, “He is a drug addict as I told you. Sometime ago he even threatened to kill the mother. So, the mother is not even comfortable living with him and she narrated that to me. So, I also don’t want him to be near me.”
Narrating how the suspect was nabbed, Zanna, who said he was not at home on that day said: “My wife called me saying the army people are at our gate. Actually, they went with four armoured vehicles, about forty of them were taken to my house. They searched all the rooms and when they went to the children’s room they broke their cupboards, searched everywhere.
“When they couldn’t find anything, then they assembled all the boys in my premises, took them out and put them under this scorching sun of Maiduguri. Actually, before doing that, they beat them up. We had to take them to the hospital later. Under this traumatised condition, they now asked them whether they know one Shuaibbu Bama, they said of course we know him. So, one of them volunteered to go and show them where he is living.
“As they were going, when they were about to reach the house, they stopped. In fact, they blindfolded the boy my neighbour’s son, and one of the officers asked one of another army personnel to come down so that they could follow him to the house. As they started going, the other officer seating down asked him, if you know of the house, so, why should we pick this boy. So, an argument ensued between them.”
He said, after the argument, they went to the house and arrested the suspect and later brought him to where they kept the people arrested in his compound for identification.
Zanna, however alleged that some people might be out somewhere to frame him up “for telling the truth” in the interview he granted to a foreign medium where he called for the withdrawal of JTF from Maiduguri if they would not abide by the rules of engagement.
He restated his claim that Sheriff is the “architect of Boko Haram”, and alleged that “in order to suppressed information, he was the one that directed the police to kill Mohammed Yusuf”.
He also said when the issue is over he would have to seek judicial redress to redeem his image and the image of the Senate.