The Ministry for Local Government and Emirate Affairs in Borno State has debunked reports that the Chairman of Mafa Local Government Area, Shettima Lawan, was arrested by the military in Maiduguri.
Reports on Saturday indicated that Lawan was arrested over alleged connection with Boko Haram including housing one of its most wanted commanders.
But the Commissioner for Local Government and Emirate Affairs, Usman Zanna, who oversees the 27 local governments in Borno State, said in a statement that the chairman reported himself to military authorities, contrary to reporters that he was arrested.
The statement also said “the chairman was known as someone who for years, worked closely with hunters and military commanders in Mafa to lead community fight against Boko Haram”.
Zanna, however, said his Ministry neither questions the judgment and authority of the military nor exonerates the chairman of any wrongdoing in order not to preempt the outcome of ongoing investigation.
“If not because of media reports on this matter, the Ministry for Local Government and Emirate Affairs, which oversees the affairs of the 27 local government areas in Borno State, would have preferred not to make public comment over a matter that is still being investigated by our competent and patriotic military establishment involved in the fight against Boko Haram.
“Contrary to media reports, the caretaker chairman in question was not arrested. He actually reported himself to the military command in Maiduguri after he got information that he was needed and was detained pending the outcome of ongoing investigations being conducted by the military,” the statement read.
It further explained that “from information available to the military, the Chairman recently got involved in assisting some citizens trapped in a village within his local government area and he is believed to have Internally Displaced Persons living in his residence at 505 estate like most adults in Maiduguri, Jere and parts of Konduga do have fleeing relatives and friends living with them.
“There is an information that a certain suspected member of the Boko Haram might have joined some of the citizens he helped last week “but whether he knew the identity of the suspect and deliberately hid him and for whatever purpose is what we look forward to being determined by the military.
“This investigation is particularly important to us because it affects the safety and integrity of the Ministry. As we acknowledge, it would amount to seating on a keg of gunpowder if anyone dealing with the Ministry, harbours any criminal, especially insurgents that have killed our parents, wives, sons and daughters in addition to sending our families out of their communities to now live with us in pains”.
The Ministry also assured citizens of the 27 local government areas; other concerned Nigerians and the International community that it was usually very thorough in identifying those appointed either as local government chairmen, ward councillors, traditional rulers, vigilantes and members of the Civilian JTF deployed to the 27 local government areas of Borno State.
“We anxiously look forward to the outcome of the investigation while we abide by the public known position of Governor Kashim Shettima that anyone found having any connection with insurgents is an enemy of Borno State and it’s people” Zanna, the Commissioner for Local Government and Emirate Affairs said in the statement.