Ali Modu Sheriff, the former governor of Borno State who is alleged to be funding the violent Boko Haram militancy in the Northeast, arrived in the state capital today with over 200 soldiers in his convoy.
He was in town to pay a condolence visit on a friend who lost his mother.
Mr. Sheriff ignited a political firestorm only last week when he showed up in meetings in Chad with President Goodluck Jonathan and his Chadian counterpart, Idris Derby.
That revelation brought the Nigerian president under a serious political backlash. The public outcry forced Mr. Jonathan to declare publicly he will not interfere with the investigation of Mr. Sheriff by the State Security Services.
Mr. Sheriff’s foray into Maiduguri in stunning force following his arrival on a private jet shocked residents who were suddenly swamped by a massive convoy of soldiers, making many to speculate that the Chief of Defense Staff, Alex bade, was in town.
Mr. Sheriff made the even more astonishing announcement to close pals that he was merely visiting an associate, Kassim Imam, who lost his mother a few days ago.
Analysts say Mr. Sheriff’s possession and open demonstration of such lavish federal force and protection reopens the question as to his real relationship with Mr. Jonathan, and the future of any investigation of the sponsors of Boko Haram.
Some Maiduguri residents and political observers expressed surprise about Mr. Sheriff’s huge convoy in view of Mr. Jonathan’s denials. They wondered why 200 soldiers that should be fighting against Boko Haram, the sect Sheriff is allegedly funding, should instead be protecting him.
Efforts to obtain comments from presidential spokesman Reuben Abati, who issued a statement denying that Mr. Sheriff was in Chad with Mr. Jonathan, met with failure.