Ahmed Zanna, the Senator for Borno Central in whose Maiduguri home an alleged Boko Haram top commander was arrested late two days ago, “is a drowning man” who must be fully investigated.
This verdict was passed in a press statement today by Senator Modu Sheriff, the former governor of the state, who called on the security authorities to fully investigate the incident and Senator Zanna’s possible links with Boko Haram.
He also drew attention to Zanna’s “Hajj-by-road” activities for which, he said, the legislator was suspected to have used as a façade for the importation of arms and window for the training of terrorists.
Shuaibu Mohammed Bama, called a “high profile Boko Haram commander” by the Joint Task Force (JTF), was arrested in “a serving politician’s house,” JTF announced on Friday.
Following the JTF press statement, Senator Zanna told newsmen that although Bama was his nephew, the arrest did not take place in his home. “Since he was not arrested in my house, they should go and investigate his relationship with people they arrested him in their house,” he said.
But the former governor scoffed at that account. “Senator Zanna in a comic u-turn, shortly after these developments, told journalists in a face-saving interview that while he could not deny his relationship with his nephew, he disowned his house where the JTF arrested the suspect, stressing that the house belongs to Senator Ali Modu Sheriff the immediate former governor of the state.”
The former governor, who is now the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the All Nigeria People’s Party, noted that Zanna has had a “recent political encounter” with him, and now “appears desperate to settle scores by dragging Ali Sheriff into the controversy.”
Said Modu Sheriff: “Senator Zanna’s inconsistencies in trying to defend himself are clear indication of a sinking man’s desperate attempt to hang himself on anything available in order to save his neck. If not so, what would his nephew be doing in the so-called house of Senator Ali Sheriff, the man he said is his political rival?”
The ex-governor said Senator Zanna has “obvious involvement with Boko Haram, given his past antecedence where people finger him as illegal importer of arms via his Hajj-by-road fame.”
He said it was common knowledge in Borno state that Senator Zanna takes some hapless Nigerians on a seeming religious voyage by road only to put some of them into terrorist activity and illegal arms importation.
While it is not clear if he had ever reported this information to the security agencies, the former governor said that some of the so-called “pilgrims by road” have been traced to terrorists’ camps in Afghanistan and Syria, and not Saudi Arabia, their preferred destination.
“It is very much on record that 27 of such pilgrims are still missing uptill date.”
He refuted the senator’s claims that he had parted ways with his nephew, Shuaibu Bama, saying he can “authoritatively confirm” the man was still his associate up to the time of his arrest.
He further queried why Senator Zanna never spoken against the atrocities being committed by Boko Haram, noting that instead, he has been calling for the declaration of state of emergency or the disbandment of the JTF.
The former governor also declared the People’s Democratic Party in Borno State as “the engine room behind Boko Haram,” arguing that Zanna being the second senator fingered as having links with Boko Haram confirms “the wildly believed theory.”
He wondered how the Senator who he accused of not having visited Borno or his constituency even once since his inauguration can afford to play politics with the serious issue at stake by sponsoring terrorism against his own people.
“At his age and with the position he holds as a senator of the Federal Republic we felt it is the height of un-patriotism and irresponsibility for Senator Ahmed Zanna to not only fuel the crisis in Borno, but to attempt to drag the names of descent citizens, like Ali Sheriff in the mud,” the statement said.