Embattled Senator Khlaifa Ahmed Zanna has confirmed his invitation by the State Security Service (SSS) and told reporters that he would be reporting to the operatives soon after addressing a press conference.
This was just as former governor Ali Modu Sherrif has, in a reaction, declared that Senator Zanna was a drowning man whose allegations against him were false.
However, Zannah, representing Borno Central, fingered former governor Sheriff as the one behind his travails.
Senator Zanna also told a press conference in Abuja yesterday that he was not surprised that his nephew, Shuaibu Bama, was arrested by the Joint Task Force (JTF) because, according to him, his nephew has been of bad behaviour and a drug addict but not known to be a Boko Haram member.
Explaining that Sheriff was after him, Zanna said: “As you all know, I represent the Borno Central senatorial district in the Senate. My historic defeat of the former governor of Borno State, in the person of Ali Modu Sheriff, at the polls has not and will not go down well with many forces and individuals in this country for some time to come. Therefore, this latest campaign by the military Joint Task Force in Borno State to disseminate falsehood against me, that is to say that even though they arrested Shuaibu Bama at Ali Modu Sheriff’s house, they chose to tell the world that they arrested him in my house. It is part of the campaign to rope me into the JTF dragnet, declare me a Boko Haram member, financier, sympathizer, harbourer or even activist and declare my seat vacant, all to pave way for Ali Modu Sheriff to, by hook or crook, come to the Senate! No more No less.
“Brute force, no matter how brutally it is used, cannot alter what Allah has decided. I think so; the JTF takes more directives from him than anybody in this country. This is what I have seen because whenever he comes to Maiduguri, the paraphernalia that they use to welcome him cannot be done even to the president.”
He noted that his witch-hunt at the hands of the JTF came barely days after he criticised them over the extra-judicial killings in the state. He called on the federal government to withdraw them from the state as they have flouted the rules of engagement of their operations.
He noted that he was never told his nephew was being sought after by JTF, adding: “I saw him last six months ago. He lives around that area, although for the last three months I have not gone home because I went on an operation outside the country.”
He also agreed that there is a link between politics and Boko Haram. “Yes, of course, the spread of Boko Haram is as a result of mixing politics with the security of this country. And that is the reason why until today they are not able to counter this insurgency.”
He further indicted the JTF: “All that is happening is not exposed to you. For instance, the JTF about three days ago went and killed 15 boys playing football. They just shot all of them and everybody ran away. They took them to the mortuary. So the JTF is holding this against me because I am exposing them. We have been quiet for some time. We have to speak up; people are being killed unnecessarily.”
Zanna is a drowning man - Sheriff
In a response, Ali Modu Sheriff yesterday described as laughable claims by Senator Ahmed Zanna that the Boko Haram commandant was arrested in his house, saying that the senator was a drowning man who wanted to drag others along.
Senator Sheriff, who is also the chairman, ANPP Board of Trustees (BOT), said Senator Zanna should explain his link with the suspect instead of denying the obvious fact.
Comrade Umar Duhu, special assistant to the ANPP B.O.T chairman, told journalists that it was on record that the Joint Task Force in Maiduguri had, on Friday, October 19, announced the arrest of one Shuaibu Muhammed Bama in the house of a serving senator along Damboa Road, GRA, Maiduguri.
He said Senator Zanna who admitted that the arrested suspect is his nephew is now accusing someone else. “It is also on record that the State Security Service has invited Senator Zanna to clarify his involvement with the suspect and his links with Boko Haram. Senator Zanna in a comic u-turn, shortly after these developments, told journalists in a face-saving interview that while he could not deny his relationship with his nephew, he disowned his house where the JTF arrested the suspect.”
He added that the senator, given his recent political encounter with Sheriff, appeared desperate to settle scores by dragging Ali Sheriff into the controversy.
“It is laughable that instead of defending his obvious involvement with Boko Haram, given his past antecedents where people fingered him as an illegal importer of arms via his Hajj-by-road fame, Senator Zanna is desperately looking for somebody to hang for his sins,” he said. “It is common knowledge in Borno State that Senator Zanna takes along some hapless Nigerians on a seeming religious voyage by road only to put some of them into terrorist activity and illegal arms importation.”
He said some of the so-called pilgrims by road have been traced to terrorists’ camps in Afghanistan and Syria and not Saudi Arabia, their preferred destination.
“It is very much on record that 27 of such pilgrims are still missing up till date. Senator Zanna’s inconsistencies in trying to defend himself are clear indication of a sinking man who is desperate to hang himself on anything available in order to save his neck.”