Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The Borno State Government Thursday said posters and billboards of political candidates were pulled down over non-payment of necessary charges to the state.
A member of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Muhammed Abba-Aji, had earlier accused the state government of ordering local security operatives to destroy opponents’ campaign posters and bill boards in Maiduguri, the state capital.
Abba-Aji, a former senator (2003 to 2007) and presently contesting Borno central senatorial seat on the platform of PDP had at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday alleged that the posters pulled down were targeted at political opposition by the Borno State APC- led government.
Responding to the allegation thursday, the Borno State Attorney General, Kaka-Shehu Lawan, said there was removal of posters illegally posted on all public structures and spaces in Maiduguri but never targeted at individuals or parties.
He said the exercise was still ongoing and that the exercise was carried out by the officials of the Borno State Urban Planning Board and not the BOYES as alleged by Abba-Aji.
He also faulted the PDP Senate candidate on claims that he supervised the exercise. He said: “I am not surprised that Senator Abba-Aji, a supposedly informed elder statesman has no clear knowledge of what is on ground in Borno State.”
Lawan who threatened to take Abba-Aji to court for defamation of character, said: “First, he had even erred, grossly, to say that I supervised the removal of posters by members of BOYES, because I returned to Maiduguri from Abuja late in the evening of Tuesday.
“I must be frank to state that I was also aware that the Borno state Urban Development Board has commenced the removal of posters, bill boards that are illegally mounted without following the due steps of obtaining such permission from the board of internal revenue; or pasting of posters in unauthorized public places.
“As the chief law officer, despite being a politician, I know my roles and demands of my office, and I cannot be accused of supervising the function of the Urban Planning and Development board.
“My office coordinates the affairs of the Borno Youth Empowerment Scheme (BOYES), who have been doing great job in maintaining our fragile peace and I can categorically say that they don’t interfere in the jobs of the Borno State Regional and Urban Development Board.
“As the Attorney General, I am aware that all posters, billboards that are mounted by any politician without first making payments to the revenue board would be removed irrespective of any political party be it APC, PDP and others.
“And I am also aware that this is not a one off thing; it is going to continue even after the electioneering days.
“But for the former senator to say I supervised the removal of posters of his party at a time I was away on assignment in Abuja is nothing but laughable.
“And on a serious note, I will kindly ask Senator Abba-Aji to withdraw that statement at once or I sue him and claim damages”.