Zulum replies ex-DSS chief, says ‘I never defied security reports’
Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State has denied claims that he defied security reports before the multiple attacks on his convoy by terrorists at Baga.
Last week, former Deputy Director of Department of State Services (DSS), Dennis Amakiri, had said that the governor defied warnings by security operatives against going out of Maiduguri.
A senior official in Borno government told The Guardian on Saturday that the governor could not have ignored warnings from his security details.
According to him, Borno has a security council comprising heads of all military and paramilitary agencies, the police and DSS, which Zulum chairs.
He stated: “Zulum’s relationship with heads of security is very professional and of mutual respect.
“The composition of Zulum’s security includes soldiers, police and DSS staff, and his trips are usually known to heads of security agencies who often join his convoy.”
He berated the ‘analysts’ who ride on the back of security situation in the country to popularity.
“I do not know where anyone would generate some kind of information, but of course, as it observed, many people who want to be referred as security analysts exploit the Boko Haram issue to appear on TV and claim knowledge of many issues.
“We have seen people who speak about issues they clearly lack knowledge about concerning Borno. I know of one analyst that has written a book on the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno, but who has never been to Borno,” he added.
Amakiri had said on Friday in a special programme on Channels TV to mark Nigeria’s 60th independence anniversary that the governor was warned earlier against travelling out of Maiduguri, the state capital, based on security reports.
“Zulum was furnished with the intelligence that Monguno/Baga road was not safe. He, however, defied our security warnings and felt he could go.
“Being the chief executive, he ventured out and was attacked twice. I hope he will not go again,” he said, noting that they would continue to manage the governor to make sure that he kept safe.
On September 25, 2020, Zulum’s convoy was attacked two kilometres to Baga, killing about 30 people, including 11 security operatives. Two days later, the governor encountered a fresh attack by terrorists on the same route to Monguno after resettling 521 displaced households.
The governor’s convoy was also attacked along the same road on July 29, 2020, but it narrowly escaped.
Piqued by the attacks, the governor had confronted the army and expressed his “anger and disappointment” over the inability of the military to rid Borno communities of terrorists.
His words: “You have been here for over one year now, with 1,181 soldiers. If you cannot take over Baga, which is less than five kilometres from your base, then we should forget about Baga.
“I will inform the Chief of Army Staff to redeploy the men to other places that they can be useful.”
The governor alleged sabotage in the fight against bandits in the North East.
“President Muhammadu Buhari needs to know the truth on the ongoing counter-insurgency operations in Borno,” he had lamented.
But the military said that Zulum’s allegation of sabotage was untrue.
According to a witness in the government’s press crew, that fateful Friday, the terrorists deployed a donkey laden with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) along the road to attack the governor’s convoy.
“A soldier in the convoy had to shoot the donkey and triggered multiple detonations of explosives, killing not less than eight policemen,” he said.