The Jama’atu Ahlus Sunnah Lid Da’awati Wal Jihad, otherwise known as "Boko Haram", has dissociated itself from the killing of Babakura Alhaji Fugu, the brother-in-law to slain Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf.
In an interview aired on Nigeria’s African Independent Television (AIT) on Sunday, the coordinator of the group’s Gombe, Bauchi and Plateau axis, who was not named, denounced as “wicked” the killing of late Babkura Fugu, while revealing an investigation into the murder which occurred Saturday afternoon (Nigerian time) was ongoing.
“We condemn this wicked act against one of our own. I want to categorically state here that we did not commit this act,” a male voice echoed in Hausa which was translated on the screen in English. “We do not know this very man they killed. We are conducting our own investigation to know the brains behind this killing.”
The group’s open denial comes after a text message to the Hausa service of the British Broadcasting Service (BBC) purportedly received from Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for late Fugu’s assassination. The Boko Haram coordinator also commented on the visit of ex-Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo to the Fugu family barely 36 hours before the assassination.
“I want to inform the whole world that former president Obasanjo's visit to Maiduguri is welcomed by us. During his time in office, we witnessed a similar gesture, when he visited Yelwa-Shedam in Plateau State three times during the crisis there. Even the Sultan of Sokoto has not been to Yelwa-Shedam over crisis involving Muslims. Obasanjo visited several times before he declared a state of emergency on the Plateau."
The news report stated a yet-to-be identified gunman who wore a brown Kaftan appeared from a corner and “shot straight” at late Fugu on Saturday at about 1:30pm with an AK 47 assault weapon, while he and some friends were sitting under a tree beside his family house in Maiduguri, Borno State, in the Nigeria’s North-Eastern region.
Curiously, this was the same time the line cut during a pre-interview telephone conversation with SaharaReporters when late Fugu had accepted to come on live on SaharaTV in an hour’s time for a scheduled 2:30 PM interview by telephone.
During the pre-interview (5 minutes interview that commenced at 1:26 PM) conversation with SaharaReporters, late Fugu had already begun telling the genesis of Boko Haram when Obasanjo was president.
“The antecedent is a very long story because it dates back during the Shari’a implementation that runs across the Northern Nigeria during Obasanjo regime, when most Northern Nigeria have started yearning for Shari’a law. Our own state is not exceptional,” late Fugu had started saying before our producers asked that he send his photo by email for the show.
Late Fugu had however disclosed that during his meeting with Obasanjo on Thursday, he had given Obasanjo documents to present to President Goodluck Jonathan; documents which he said had previously been submitted to the Nigerian government about which no action had been taken.
“I have never met Obasanjo before. One comrade Shehu Sanni contacted the family first then contacted Obasanjo. He is the one who bridged the gap between the two,” late Fugu said, and mentioned he and the family had complained to Obasanjo about how the government has refused to obey a Borno State High Court ruling of April 13, 2010 awarding the Fugu family N100 million damages for the “detention and subsequent execution” on July 31, 2009 of their father, Alhaji Baba Fugu Mohammed, the father-in-law to the extra-judicially executed Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf; as well as plots of land he said the government had been hassling to take from the family.
“I told him (Obasanjo). He said he has agreed. He said he didn’t hear the true picture of what happened before but now he has the firsthand information. He said he will take everything to Mr. President. He said within two to three weeks, he will either come here again or he will call us in order to solve the issue. I trust him,” he responded when asked if he was not afraid Obasanjo’s promise was a scam.
Members of the Fugu family had also held another meeting with the Borno State deputy governor on Friday, a day after Obasanjo’s visit. Their phones were taken from them and only returned after the meeting.
“We held a meeting with him. The deputy governor said he was given directive to meet our family and to have an appointment to come and negotiate and discuss on how are we going to settle our differences especially with the state. I agreed. We slated Monday so that before then I’ll talk to about three or four of our family members, both women and men too,” he said.
Late Babakura Alhaji Fugu was scheduled to meet Borno state deputy governor again on Monday, September 19, 2011. This was never to be as he was assassinated at the family house in Maiduguri.