Shettima: Four ways Naja’atu contradicted herself

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Hajiya Naja’atu Muhammad is not naïve, she did not err, she knew she was telling lies when, at the end of last month (January, 2023) she went on television, to libelously link vice presidential candidate of the APC, Senator Kashim Shettima, with sponsorship of the Boko Haram insurgents.

Naja’atu (and those who may have scripted her play) wanted to use her ‘just divorced’ relationship with the APC, to present herself as a former ‘insider’, in a position to make some revelations. It is typical of defectors, especially when they are ‘well motivated’ or looking forward to it.

At her ‘must-win-a-new-husband’ interview, Naja’atu tried using one incident to associate Shettima with Boko Haram. She said that a notorious member of the Boko Haram, Kabiru Sokoto, was arrested at the Borno governor’s lodge on T.Y. Danjuma Street, Asokoro, Abuja, in January 2012, when Shettima was less than one year in office as governor of Borno state. That, to her, was enough to call him a terror sponsor.

In holding to that argument, however, Naja’atu contradicted herself in, at least, four ways:

1. Kabiru Sokoto was arrested at the Borno governor’s lodge on January 14, 2012 and for that, Naja’atu called Shettima a sponsor of Boko Haram. However, what Naja’atu deliberately omitted was that sometime in 2014, she was in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, and during her visit, Naja’atu stayed at the official residence of Shettima while he was governor of Borno state.

Naja’atu spent two days with Shettima and his family in the Government House, and that stay happened two years after Kabiru Sokoto was arrested at the Borno governor’s lodge.

Now, if Naja’atu truly believed that Kabiru Sokoto’s arrest implied a link between Boko Haram and Shettima, would she have considered it safe to travel and live in the same house with the same Shettima, and in Maiduguri, where the Boko Haram was still commanding territories at that time?

I knew about Naja’atu’s visit to Maiduguri and her stay at Shettima’s residence, because I worked closely with Shettima as his media adviser throughout his first and second terms as Governor of Borno state.

2. Kabiru Sokoto’s arrest in January, 2012 at the Borno governor’s lodge happened during the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, who was leader of the PDP, while Shettima was an opposition governor of ANPP (which later fused into APC). After Kabiru Sokoto was arrested, security agencies investigated the circumstances of Kabiru Sokoto’s arrest.

It is public knowledge that as sitting president in the PDP, Jonathan openly had issues with Shettima (in the then opposition ANPP). Shettima criticised Jonathan’s handling of the Boko Haram while Jonathan threatened Shettima (see Premium Times, February 25, 2014, ‘Jonathan slams Borno Governor, Shettima’).

Now, if the PDP-presidency of Jonathan, which investigated Kabiru Sokoto’s arrest had found anything criminal associated with Shettima, will the PDP-presidency have spared an opposition ANPP governor, especially one that the PDP-presidency openly criticised? Would Kabiru Sokoto’s issue not have given the PDP a strong story-line to use in associating Shettima and the entire APC with Boko Haram ahead of the intense 2015 elections?

3. At an Abuja public presentation in April 2018, when the Bring Back Our Girls movement held a lecture on Chibok girls, Naja’atu Muhammad reminded her audience thus, ‘I have been part of a committee that investigated the atrocities of Boko Haram…’ Naja’atu announced (see The Cable, April 18, 2018, ‘Naja’atu Muhammad: Terrorism has become a multi-billion dollar industry’).

Now, as she re-confirmed, Naja’atu was part of that committee which ‘investigated the atrocities of Boko Haram’, but how come she never, on the basis of what should have been her committee’s findings, raised any alarm against Shettima, whom she not only lived with at his residence in 2014, but even accepted to work with, in her membership of the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council (until her sack)?

4. At that notorious interview, in which she accused Shettima, Naja’atu conveniently refused to reveal that the security committee she served in, which investigated the atrocities of Boko Haram, had based on its findings, strongly commended Shettima’s contributions to the fight against Boko Haram.

The committee identified Shettima’s 2013 role in organising, formalising, training, equipping, deploying and funding over 10,000 youth under the Civilian JTF, Vigilantes and Hunters, who used their local intelligence to help the military chase Boko Haram out of Maiduguri and to fight along them at other frontlines in over 20 local government areas.

It is on record, and no one can erase that, Shettima in 2013, applied to the then National Security Adviser during Jonathan’s presidency, and convinced the presidency on the need to approve a partnership between the Borno state government, the military, DSS, police and para-military, to involve combat-ready youth with local intelligence in the fight against Boko Haram (see The Will, September 26, 2013; ‘Borno Govt Trains first batch of 800 civilian JTF members’; Aljazeera, May 31, 2014, ‘Nigeria’s Civilian JTF has taken it upon itself to fight against Boko Haram’; Premium Times, September 4, 2014, Bama attack: ‘Borno Governor meets security heads, Civilian JTF’, Premium Times, February 1, 2015, ‘Calm returns to Maiduguri as soldiers, Civilian-JTF foil Boko Haram attack; TVC, June 6, 2019, ‘Counting the gains of civilian JTF’).

Few months after approving Shettima’s request, President Jonathan in August 2014 praised youth of the Civilian JTF, being funded by Shettima, for their gallantry and patriotism in the fight against Boko Haram (see Vanguard, August 2013, ‘Jonathan commends Civilian JTF in Borno’).

Beside Jonathan, heads of the military and commanders who operated in Borno state while Shettima was governor, including the current Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, who served as theatre commander, all testified to how Shettima incredibly supportted the fight against Boko Haram.

In fact, a delegation from the Defence Headquarters, led by the then director of operations, had in May 2013 in Maiduguri, revealed that then Governor Shettima was even helping the military with valuable security information he was gathering from community leaders, most of which had served as actionable intelligence in the military’s fight against Boko Haram.

Truth is that Shettima has incredibly contributed to the fight against Boko Haram as all these instances prove.

Meanwhile, taking us back to the arrest of Kabiru Sokoto, which opposition elements seem to isolate in trying to reverse Shettima’s history of impeccable service as governor, I appeal to you, dear reader, to read an investigative news story that was published on July 15, 2022, by The Cable news, to which none of Nigeria’s security establishments has so far faulted.

Isa Gusau,

Special Adviser on Public Relations 

and Strategy to Governor Zulum of Borno state


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