Secretary to the Borno State Government, Amb. Baba Ahmed Jidda has accused former Governor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff of politicising the allegation that he (Sheriff) was sponsoring the Boko Haram sect.
Jidda was reacting to Sheriff’s claim that the state government sponsored the Australian negotiator, Dr. Stephen Davis, to finger him as one of the financiers of terrorism in the country.
The SSG said Sheriff was looking for “an easy escape”, adding: “Just two weeks ago, Sheriff told the world at a media briefing in Abuja that he was taking Davis to court in London or so, and the Nigerian media reported Davis saying he was ready to provide evidence in court. This is one part.
“In another part, the Department of State Security (SSG) said it was probing Sheriff over the allegations. Last weekend, President Goodluck Jonathan, through his spokesperson, Dr Reuben Abati, said security agencies were probing the allegation and their findings would be made public.
“The question now is: Why is Sheriff putting the cart before the horse? Why can’t he pursue his case in court, defend whatever evidence is presented by Davis and clear his name? Why can’t he wait for the findings of the security agencies?
“Since he said he is innocent, all he needs do is to wait for the outcome of his court case and the security probe, simple. It is a big embarrassment to the state government, Governor Kashim Shettima, myself and Borno indigenes that a Borno man is being associated with such a grievous allegation, because it stains our name as a state and as a people.
“Borno people are the worst affected by the Boko Haram insurgency and to say a Borno man is partly responsible for it is a big embarrassment. Therefore, rushing to a press conference in Maiduguri to accuse the state government baselessly is to me a desperate attempt by the former governor to look for a scapegoat and an easy escape route.
“For the purpose of history, let everyone be reminded that the first publicly made accusation of complicity in the allegation levied against Sheriff emanated from his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), whose 10-man delegation visited media houses in Abuja on November 22, 2011 and accused him of being responsible for Boko Haram attacks. Davis was next to the PDP. Sheriff had the option of taking the PDP to court in 2011 over that allegation but he did not and today, those who accused him share the same party with him.
“Sheriff’s claim that the airing of the story about Davis’ allegation on the Borno Radio and Television (BRTV) was a pointer to his accusations against the government shows little or no understanding of the workings of the media. As a former general manager of BRTV with the knowledge on the workings of the news room, I know that part of the elements of news is the proximity of what happened to the audience or rather, the importance of the issue to the audience and how the issue affects them from the human interest perspective.
“By all means of all the elements of news, if there is one group of Nigerians which is directly affected by the Boko Haram issue, it is the people of Borno State and this makes news about Boko Haram of so much interest to our people, hence the reason every media house that understands news values makes Borno a key audience. Why shouldn’t BRTV inform Borno people about such development, more so when media houses in far away Lagos deemed it news worthy?
“My advice to the former governor is to stop chasing shadows and focus on his court process and get the truth out with incontrovertible evidence. It is as simple as that. The Borno State government has nothing to do with Davis, unless if Sheriff had dealings with him or others when he was governor. That we don’t know, but under Shettima, we have no controversies of such and he shouldn’t drag this innocent, transparent and hardworking administration into controversies. We have enough issues to worry about. Our concern is how to end the crisis and not to cause confusion”.