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I'm ready to face panel on Boko Haram 'Modu Sheriff

Published by Tribune on Thu, 04 Sep 2014

EVEN as controversy rages on the killing of the former leader of the Boko Haram sect, Mohammed Yusuf and the sponsorship of the sect, the former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, on Wednesday, distanced himself from the sect and declared that he was ready to face any panel to extricate himself from the sect or its leader.Sheriff, while speaking with newsmen in Abuja, also explained that those linking him with the sect were out to tarnish his reputation, stressing that the ideology of the Boko Haram were at variance with his own personal ideologies and religious beliefs.The two-time executive governor of Borno State and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who recently defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), claimed that he was a major target of the sect and that they killed several of his direct relations in an attempt to get at him.The three time senator also said that the late Yusuf had mentioned his name in one of his open air sermons as well as the names of the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua; former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike; the former Chief of Army Staff, General Abdulsalam Dambazzau; former Inspector-General of Police, Mr Ogbonna Onovo and the former Director-General of the Department of State Security (DSS), Mr Afakriya Gadzama, among those to be killed by the sect.Though he said he had no solution towards ending the sect activities, which he acknowledged has assumed more dangerous dimension, Senator Sheriff said by his assessment, the period Sunday, July 26 to Friday, July 31, 2009 remained the darkest and most traumatic part of the history of Borno State as the sect killed no fewer than 1,000 persons including innocent civilians and policemen.Sheriff said: 'first and foremost, I want to tell you that Mohammed Yusuf was captured by the military. He was never brought to my office and it was the military that invited me. The General that captured him is still alive, Major-General Saleh Maina, now retired, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the 3rd Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army, Jos. You are free to go and ask him, whether the man was brought to my office, contrary to what some people are writing.'Secondly, concerning what you the media said General Jerremiah Useni said that I founded and sponsored Boko Haram, let him provide his evidence. I am prepared to face any panel anywhere in the world.'Some people are busy concocting stories for their selfish reasons. They are at liberty; it is called press freedom. Therefore, I will not join issues. Yusuf was never brought to my office. He was captured by the military.'I am telling you as somebody who has been in position to speak because I was governor then.'It is instructive to point out that I had been one of the greatest victims of the atrocities of the Boko Haram sect. As the executive governor of the state at that time, I had not abdicated my responsibilities of protecting the lives and property of the people and did not give them any breathing space to operate outside the law of the land.'Because of this, they (Boko Haram) were driven by a desire for vengeance against me, my family and my political associates.'From the number of casualties amongst my relations and political associates, it is evident that I suffered considerable personal loss from the crises.'Among those killed in cold blood were my younger brother, late Alhaji Goni Mustapha Sheriff, the defunct ANPP State Chairman and my brother-in-law, late Alhaji Awana Ngala, the gubernatorial candidate of our party in the 2011 election, late Modu Fannami Gubio, my bosom friends, Alhaji Mustapha Fulawama, Bukar Goni Kolo and a host of other close political associates.'In an open air sermon Mohammed Yusuf tagged 'Open Letter,' Yusuf called the names of the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua; former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike; the former Chief of Army Staff, General Abdulsalam Dambazzau; the former Inspector-General of Police, Mr Ogbonna Onovo; former Director-General of the Department of State Security (DSS), Mr Afakriya Gadzama and my humble self among those who stood on their way and threatened to deal with us and those that refused to share their doctrine.'Insisting that Boko Haram predates his administration, Senator Sheriff gave example of several incidences involving the sect's killings, especially against security agencies, stressing that at all times, he fully co-operated with the Federal Government and all the security agencies working against the sect.He further asserted that following the Boko Haram encounter with the military in 2009, it became obvious that they re-planned their offensive, leading to the killing of an alarming number of policemen, other security agents and high profile individuals, including traditional rulers, Islamic clerics and politicians.He also spoke about his defection to the PDP, wondering why it has generated lots of issues among the APC leadership. He added that several other top APC leaders would soon dump the party.Sheriff equally disowned the interview granted by one Australian, Stephen Davis, who accused him of having a linkage with the sect, maintaining that his name was being mentioned for political reasons.Meanwhile, the former Borno State governor, on Wednesday, said that he has directed his lawyers to drag the Australian negotiator, Dr Stephen Davies and Chief John Oyegun to court for smearing his name.Speaking at a world press conference in Abuja, Modu Sheriff, who said that the ploy was a diversionary tactics to cover the atrocities of the APC of which, he was a founding member.According to him, 'erroneous impression and mischief is being created about my person. They employed this tactics to divert attention. I do not share the ideology of Boko Haram sect which is against western education.'He said that he was disappointed with Chief Oyegun, saying: 'this was a man who came to my house three days ago begging me not to leave the APC, and now turning round to base his unfounded allegation against me as sponsor of Boko Haram.'Senator Sheriff disclosed that when the leader of Boko Haram was captured by the military, he was never brought to his office before he was killed.He disclosed that he is ready to face any panel on Boko Haram.
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