Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, yesterday refuted the claims by former President Goodluck Jonathan that he (Shettima) sabotaged government’s efforts to rescue the Chibok schoolgirls from Boko Haram captivity.
Stating that Jonathan was economical with the truth, the governor described the former president’s allegation as a clever attempt to sweep incontrovertible facts surrounding the April 14, 2014 Chibok abduction under the carpet.
Shettima spoke in reaction to allegations contained in the book, “My Transition Hours,” authored by Jonathan, which was launched on Tuesday in Abuja. Chapter four of the book is entitled ‘The Chibok Schoolgirls Affair.’
Hitting back at him, the governor said that Jonathan deliberately omitted in chapter four of his new book an investigative report submitted to him in June 2014 by the presidential facts-finding committee he had constituted in May, 2014, which was mandated to gather evidence-based facts and circumstances of the abduction.
LEADERSHIP reports that the former president had indicated that the schoolgirls’ abduction was the product of a conspiracy by the then opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in connivance with the Borno State government.
Jonathan also accused the Borno State government and the administration of the then US President Barack Obama of undermining efforts to rescue the Chibok girls in 2014.
But Governor Shettima, in a statement released by his special adviser on communications and strategy, Malam Isa Gusau, yesterday, said the truth was that Jonathan never believed there was an abduction until rescue efforts were late, describing the book as containing erroneous information.
He noted: “The former president’s elementary book of tales fell short of the courage required of him to publish findings by his own panel in chapter four of his book.
“The whole of Tuesday night, I took the pains of reading His Excellency, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s book, “My Transition Hours”, from the first to the 177th page. I took particular interest in chapter four (the Chibok Sschool Girls Affair) which has 42 paragraphs written on pages 27 to 36.
“I was amused that, despite admitting in paragraph 15 that he had (in May 2014) constituted a Presidential Fact-Finding Committee under Brigadier General Ibrahim Sabo and many others “to investigate” the Chibok abduction, former President Jonathan refused to mention any part or whole of the findings by that panel which had submitted a highly investigative report to him on Friday, June 20, 2014 after the panel held investigative meetings with the then chiefs of Defence Staff, Army Staff, Air Staff, the DG, DSS and IGP, met all security heads in Borno, visited Chibok, met with parents of abducted schoolgirls, met surviving students, interrogated officials of the school and the supervising ministry of education, interrogated officials of WAEC and analysed all correspondences.
“What has become very clear is that the former president decided to sit on facts in his custody while he published, in an elementary standard, a book of fiction designed to pass guilty verdict to anyone but himself, with respect to the open failures of his administration to rescue our daughters and in tackling the Boko Haram challenges”.
The governor declared that by refusing to publish any part of his own panel’s findings on the Chibok abduction, Jonathan’s book was nothing short of a “presidential tale by midday”.
Shettima recalled that “on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, President Jonathan had inaugurated multi-agency/stakeholder fact-finding panel under the chairmanship of Brig. General Ibrahim Sabo (rtd), a one-time director of military intelligence and also appointed a secretary from the Niger Delta.
“President Jonathan single-handedly selected all members of that committee, which included his trusted allies amongst serving and retired security officers from the Army, DSS and Police; representatives of the UN and ECOWAS, representatives of the Chibok community, local and international civil rights organisations, representatives of the National Council on Women Societies, the Nigeria Union of Journalists amongst other persons he trusted.
“For almost two months, the probe panel undertook forensic assessment of all documents on the entire issues, held investigative meetings with parents of the schoolgirls during a visit to Chibok. The panel held separate one-on-one investigative meetings with myself, the then Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chiefs of Air and Naval Staff, met the then Director General of the DSS and the Inspector General of Police, all of whom were appointees of President Jonathan.
“The panel interrogated officials of Borno Government including the commissioner of education and the school principal. The panel also held investigative meetings with heads of all security agencies in Borno State including security formations in charge of Chibok. At the end, the panel submitted its report directly to President Jonathan on Friday, the 20th of June, 2014 in Abuja.
“President Jonathan has refused to make public the findings submitted to him. I was expecting the findings in his book but he has deliberately swept that report under the carpet. However, I remember that on June 24, 2014, the ThisDay Newspaper claimed to have obtained a copy of the panel’s report and published, as its lead, that painstaking findings by the presidential panel had indicted the military under Jonathan’s watch and completely absolved the Borno State government of any blame regarding the Chibok abduction.
“The newspaper went further to say that the panel actually commended the efforts of the Borno State government in its commitment to the fight against Boko Haram as testified by heads of security establishments.”
Governor Shettima also said it was clear to him, after reading the former president’s book, that he still lives with poor understanding of issues under his presidency.
The governor described as laughable Jonathan’s claim on page 31 that Boko Haram wanted a Muslim president rather than him, a Christian, pointing out that the insurgents actually began their deadliest attacks in Borno under the regime of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, a Muslim from northern Nigeria.
According to him, the terrorists are only interested in perpetrating evil against everyone irrespective of creed.
“Boko Haram fighters do not care about the religion of their targeted victims; they attack mosques and churches. They are lunatics who regard anyone who doesn’t share their ideology as an infidel. So, I wonder how the former president didn’t take time to understand the biggest challenge under his presidency,” Shettima said.
The governor advised former President Jonathan to write a second book on account of his presidency which should contain the facts as have been presented to him regarding the Chibok abduction rather than the fiction he made public on Tuesday.