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Shettima: Facts and fallacies of Boko Haram link

The emergence of Senator Kashim Shettima as the running mate to the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential aspirant, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, has continued to generate…

The emergence of Senator Kashim Shettima as the running mate to the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential aspirant, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, has continued to generate reactions from all corners of Nigeria.  

Most worrisome is the puerile attempt by some ill-intentioned social media influencers to link the former governor of Borno State to Boko Haram terrorism.

What could have influenced the attempt to link Shettima to Boko Haram?

While the paid and unpaid agents behind this vile propaganda have not provided any evidence to link the senator to terrorism  it is nevertheless necessary to examine some facts from the obvious fallacies of the opposition and separate the wheat from the chaff.

For instance, while travelling to Gamboru Ngala for a rally ahead of the 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections, Shettima’s convoy was attacked by members of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and three of his loyalists were killed and many others sustained various degrees of injury.

Characteristically, the ISWAP claimed responsibility for the attack the following day. The then special adviser on communication and strategy, Malam Isa Gusau, confirmed the identities of the deceased, which included a brave soldier and two staunch politicians.

According to Gusau, the attack was principally aimed to attract global media attention in order to sustain the terrorists’ agenda of instilling fear in citizens and reducing the morale of the gallant troops.

The leader of the Boko Haram terrorists, Abubakar Shekau, who was later killed in an alleged suicide-bombing, had threatened Shettima and top government officials in a 56-minute video, where he ordered his members and foot-soldiers to kill them wherever and whenever they found them. Could Shettima have a link with Boko Haram and yet would be the number one on their hit list?

In the video, Shekau boasted as follows: “You former Governor Kashim [Shettima], you present Governor [Babagana] Zulum, listen – do not be deceived by your walking without shoes – be careful! If you sing these things we mentioned [Nigeria’s national anthem, national pledge, and the NYSC anthem], you are a disbeliever, even if you recite them jokingly.”

It was not surprising that Shettima and Zulum were mentioned in the video because both personalities have consistently spoken against the evil of Boko Haram and worked assiduously with security agents and other stakeholders to decimate them. They have also been supporting internally displaced persons to recover from the damage the terrorists had done in their lives, and to also relocate them to their respective, original communities.

It should also be noted that Shettima didn’t just stop at appealing to the federal government to intensify efforts aimed at eradicating terrorism, he committed enormous resources in supporting the military with equipment and dozens of vehicles to ease mobility during operations. Is that a governor that has a link with Boko Haram terrorists?

Born and brought up in Maiduguri, I can authoritatively confirm the fact that Shettima adequately funded the Volunteer Vigilante Youth Groups, popularly known as Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in 2013, who were later trained in counterterrorism operations to strengthen the fight against Boko Haram terrorists.

He also provided adequate welfare and logistic to over 20,000 members of the CJTF to strengthen the fight against Boko Haram elements. The motivation enhanced the crucial role of the CJTF in intelligence gathering, easy identification and arrest of suspected insurgents, among others. Could Shettima have a link with Boko Haram fighters and yet fund their tormentors?

Before the expiration of Shettima’s tenure as governor of Borno State, he was relentlessly calling for the deployment of military personnel and equipment to curb the threat of the terrorist group in the North East. Could Shettima have a connection with terrorists, yet support counterterrorism financing?

When Boko Haram terrorists destroyed churches in Borno, Shettima not only provided funds for the reconstruction of the places of worship but also ensured adequate security protection of the places.

It is, therefore, unfair and unreasonable to link him with Boko Haram terrorism when he, in reality, has been their number one enemy and a prime target for years.

Lawan Bukar Maigana wrote from Wuye District Abuja 

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