Residents and some government officials in Maiduguri have expressed dismay over alleged “ill treatment” of Borno State officials by the presidency in Abuja during interrogation over the abduction 267 girls at secondary school in Chibok over three weeks ago.
A Protest Letter signed by Mohammed Bashir Shuwa, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Kashim Shettima on ICT Alhaji Aliyu Biu, made available to newsmen says they have reservations over the “degrading manner in which Borno state government officials were chastised and reduced to nothing by the presidency.”
The protest letter reads:
“Upon their arrival at the presidential villa on Saturday May, 3rd 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan personally interrogated these key officials from 9pm to 2 am as if all the official information relayed to him by his security apparatus in Borno were meaningless, unreliable and suspicious.
“At the end of the interrogation, President Goodluck Jonathan (with the exception of Shettima) handed over these officials to the Inspector General of Police with the clear instructions to do his job. These officials were driven to the Force Headquarters where they were detained and made to make written statements on how the girls were abducted and later released on bail on self recognition as if they were directly or indirectly responsible for the abduction of there own children.
“The following Sunday May, 5th, 2014 they were again taken to the Villa at 5pm for further interrogation and this time by the First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan. While at the Villa, they remained standing for four hours after which they were ushered in into the First Lady’s chambers where they were treated to verbal assaults as to the veracity of their claims on how the school girls were abducted to the admiration of her cheer leaders including the President of Market Women Association and Ms Onyeka Onwenu as well as some members of the northern governors wives association present.
“One would have expected that the first lady would have sympathized with these government officials for the traumatic event they went through but unfortunately they were subjected to all sorts of embarrassing humiliation.
“The sum total of the First Lady’s vituperation appeared to be directed toward negativity and substituting facts with fictions in order to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Also attempts made to play on religious sentiments failed woefully having realized that the girls abducted came from various religious groups.
“As if that was not enough the first lady made a number of threatening remarks including the order to security officials to arrest some women protesters and shouting down on the state Director of State Security Service and other officials whom she allegedly libeled as Boko Haram sympathizers. She also ordered all the officials to resign their appointments forthwith on their return to their respective duty posts.
“This is highly unfortunate and totally unacceptable because the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) has not mentioned or given any clearly defined responsibility, role or power to first ladies to issue such directives or exercise the powers of the state chief executive directly or indirectly or otherwise. The first ladies are enjoying the current privileges courtesy of their husband’s position.
“This official highhandedness exhibited by Dame Patience Jonathan is primitive and unconstitutional and therefore totally unacceptable. Similarly the president also need to clarify the grounds on which he
ordered for the detention and interrogation of the key government officials from Borno State who were equally victims of the insurgency in Borno State.
“In view of the foregoing we call on the International Community to ask President Goodluck Jonathan to explain to the world why he appeared to have doubts as the security information sent to him by his own security apparatus and decided to descend on Borno State Government Officials.
“If he has any doubt on such reports are the Borno State Government Officials who did not write these official security reports going to be held responsible and asked to clarify what they have not written and reported? To us the sum total action of the presidency tantamount to blaming the victim, hence the purpose of our protest,” the letter said.