by Hamza Idris, Yahaya Ibrahim & Ibrahim Sawab, Maiduguri; DailyTrust
Hundreds of soldiers led by a serving colonel of the Nigerian Army provided cover for former Borno State governor Ali Modu Sheriff who stormed Maiduguri yesterday to strategize ahead of next year’s election.
Our correspondents report that several police men and operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS) also provided security to the former governor who landed at the Maiduguri International Airport in his private aircraft around 2.30pm.
The security operatives in armoured personnel carriers (APCs) cordoned off the airport before the arrival of Sheriff. The former governor had defected to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) few months ago, and since then, has become “a priced bride” of the Federal Government, receiving full security complement wherever he goes.
During his visit yesterday, soldiers and policemen stood at various locations in Maiduguri to ensure adequate safety for the former governor, who was accompanied by his brother and PDP governorship aspirant Mala Sheriff.
Others in the entourage were Alhaji Kashim Imam, Alhaji Gambo Lawan and Barrister Umara Kumalia, all of whom are also working to get the governorship ticket of the PDP, among others.
Former chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in the state, Alhaji Mohammed Imam, who was earlier tipped as Sheriff’s preferred candidate arrived in Maiduguri earlier and was also given security complement.
While on his way out of the airport in a long motorcade, an armoured personnel carrier led the convoy and another one trailed behind even as dozens of security patrol vehicles stood in between hundreds of private cars of politicians.
Shehu not in palace
From the airport, Sheriff drove straight to Shehuri, with the intention of paying homage to the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Garbai Al-Amin El-Kanemi.
But the Shehu had left the palace few minutes before the arrival of Sheriff.
The former governor left after waiting for about 20 minutes when it became clear that his host was not around to receive him.
The Secretary of the Borno Emirate Council, Alhaji Zannah Laisu Kazalma, said the Shehu did not shun the former governor.
“I want to inform you that the Shehu is a father to all and is always willing to grant audience to everybody. What happened today (yesterday) is that he had to go to the Government House here in Maiduguri to attend a security meeting. This is the true picture of what happened.
“The Shehu had granted audience to the former governor in the past and it will be wrong for anyone to insinuate that he avoided the former governor this time around,” Laisu said.
Sheriff later arrived at the PDP state secretariat along Kashim Ibrahim way where he was received by a tumultuous crowd.
Though he did not stay long at the secretariat, sources close to Sheriff said he had picked expression form to contest for the Borno Central
Senatorial district in the forthcoming elections.
He had contested for the same seat in 2011 while completing his second term as governor but seat was defeated by Khalifa Ahmed Zannah, who
defected to the APC few days ago.
Flagrant abuse of power
“It is very sad that despite the glaring insecurity in Borno State, Governor Kashim Shettima does not have a single soldier in his convoy and he has less than 20 policemen and 10 SSS operatives providing security for him,” Barrister Mohammed Ali, a legal practitioner said.
“I still remember the flagrant abuse of power by the federal government when the Maiduguri airport was reopened for Sheriff to land few weeks after he defected to the PDP. The same airport was closed for about one year and even pilgrims had to take the risky ride to Kano before they were airlifted to Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Shettima, who has remained in the All Progressives Congress (APC), had parted ways with Sheriff over a year ago.