Northern Govs Demand Probe of Member’s Alleged Backing for Terrorists

Simon Bako Lalong

•Ortom wants FG to allow responsible citizens to carry arms
•DSS releases Mailafia

By Seriki Adinoyi in Jos and George Okoh in Makurdi

Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) has called on security agencies to investigate the allegation by a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Obadiah Mailafia that one of them is a Boko Haram commander.

The Chairman of the forum and Governor of Plateau State, Hon. Simon Lalong, in a statement in Jos, expressed concern over Mailafia’s allegation and demanded an urgent probe to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the claim.

Mailafia, who was invited by the Department of State Services over the allegation, was, however, released yesterday after six hours of interrogation.

In a related development, Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, has urged the federal government to allow those he described as responsible citizens to bear weapons such as AK-47 rifles to protect themselves as part of measures to curb the rising insecurity in the country.

Mailafia, who was the presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in 2019 presidential election, in an interview with a broadcast station, whose video later went viral, had said he had a chat with two repentant Boko Haram members who named a northern governor as a commander of the terror group.

He said the terrorists and bandits were one and the same, adding that the terrorists moved weapons even during the lockdown imposed by the federal government to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ADC, however, described as mischievous the reproduction of Mailafia’s audio interview, saying the interview was misrepresented and reproduced without his consent.

The party added that while it was its position that the Buhari administration seemed to be paying lip service to combating crime on all fronts, Mailafia’s remarks were sensationalised.

The Department of State Services (DSS), however, invited Mailafia over the allegation.

In the wake of the DSS’ invitation to Mailafia, the governors tasked the security agency to thoroughly probe the allegation.

Lalong said: “The forum, which has been working with the federal government, security agencies, community, civil society, traditional and religious leaders as well as development partners to defeat terrorism, banditry and other forms of criminality in the region finds the allegation by Dr. Mailafia very weighty, which deserves further investigation.

“We as Northern governors have met severally to discuss insecurity in the Northern region and the nation at large where we did not only condemn the activities of terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, bandits, armed robbers, kidnappers, and other criminals, but also engaged the president and all heads of security agencies in finding solutions to the problem. To now say that one of our members is leading Boko Haram in Nigeria is a serious allegation that cannot be swept under the carpet. We demand an immediate and thorough investigation.”

The northern governors also urged Mailafia and all citizens with useful information on the activities of criminals and terrorist groups to assist security agencies and governments at all levels with such intelligence for proper action.

The governors also wondered if “such allegations are not smear campaigns or attempts to discourage the Northern governors who are putting in their best to bring an end to insecurity in the region.”

Lalong added that the governors do not, and will not support the activities of any criminal group, adding that governors and their families are also not spared as was recently witnessed when the convoy of Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum was attacked.

Ortom Wants FG to Allow Responsible Citizens Carry AK47 Rifles

The Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, has urged the federal government to allow responsible citizens to protect themselves with weapons such as AK-47 rifles as part of measures to curb the rising insecurity in the country.

The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Terver Akase, titled, ‘National Security: Gov Ortom Proposes The Way Forward,’ urged the federal government to grant licences to responsible citizens to carry sophisticated weapons to deter criminals from attacking innocent and helpless Nigerians.

He said the policy should be backed by a strict legal framework to prevent illegal possession of arms by the citizenry without exception.

His recommendations were part of his submission in a paper Ortom presented yesterday during the virtual meeting convened by Centre for Values in Leadership, CVL, in collaboration with Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).

In the paper titled: ‘Insecurity and Governance Challenges in the New Normal,’ the governor said governments at all levels must come to terms with the fact that insecurity is a real threat to development of the country and be willing to sincerely tackle the menace.

He also recommended adequate funding of security agencies and continuous training of their personnel to enable them to be abreast of global dynamics in the fight against insecurity.

The governor urged the federal government to embrace ranching as it is the global best practice of animal husbandry and enact a law to end open grazing, which often comes with attacks on farming communities by armed herdsmen militia.

Ortom also advocated improved educational standards and enhanced public enlightenment campaigns to give the people, particularly youths the needed orientation to shun negative acts and become more patriotic.

He called for the repositioning of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) through training, funding and logistics to successfully confront drug barons and peddlers; a move he said would stop illegal drugs from entering and circulating in the country.