- Says chairman reported himself to military
- Describes detention as worrisome twist
The Ministry for Local Government and Emirate Affairs which supervises the chairmen of the 27 local government areas in Borno State yesterday described the arrest of Chairman of Mafa Local Government Area, Shettima Lawan Mafa, over alleged connection with Boko Haram member as a “a very worrisome twist.”
It noted that contrary to media reports, the chairman wasn’t arrested, rather, he reported himself to the military.
The ministry also said the chairman was known for closely working with hunters and military commanders for many years in Mafa leading the community fight against Boko Haram.
The Commissioner for Local Government and Emirate Affairs, Hon. Usman Ali Zanna, however said his ministry neither questions the judgment and authority of the military nor exonerates the chairman of any wrongdoing in order not to preempt the outcome of ongoing investigation.
“If not because of media reports on this matter, the Ministry for Local Government and Emirate Affairs which oversees the affairs of the 27 local government areas in the state 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 by the media 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 for Local Government and Emirate Affairs, the whole development is a worrisome twist. It is a twist because, for years, the caretaker chairman has been known for his courage in joining hunters at the front line to battle Boko Haram fighters. His commitment in the fight against insurgents is known to different army commanders who 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 the state,” the ministry stated.
Zanna further noted that “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 who 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 siting on a keg of gun powder if anyone dealing with the ministry harbours any criminal, especially insurgents who 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 to all the local government areas of the 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 the publicly known position of the state Governor, Kashim Shettima, that anyone found having any connection with insurgents is an enemy of the state and its people.”