by Isi Esene
Senator Ahmed Zanna has been invited for questioning by the State Security Services over his alleged involvement with a suspected member of the militant Islamic group, Boko Haram.
This invitation is following the arrest of Shuaibu Bama, a Boko Haram suspect, in a house believed to belong to the senator. Bama was arrested by men of the Joint Task Force in a building along Damboa Road in Maiduguri, Borno State.
According to reports, Bama had long been under security surveillance before being nabbed at the said location in Maiduguri.
The senator confirmed to newsmen on Sunday that his attention was needed by the State Security Service for questioning.He is expected to report to the SSS office today (Monday).
He explained that the Maiduguri house in question belonged to the former governor of the state, Modu Ali Sheriff, against whom he contested and won the Borno Central Senatorial seat.
Zanna reportedly said he suspects a frame-up by operatives of the military Joint Task Force who apprehended the suspected Boko Haram commander.
He said, “Since my house was searched and the JTF made the announcement, I have not been contacted by security agencies. But it was only this morning (Sunday), I saw a text that the SSS DG will want to see me on Monday. I will honour the invitation .What I am suspecting is that they want to frame me up.”
Speaking on the character of the arrested Boko Haram member, Zanna said Bama was an unstable mind.
He said, “As for his behaviour, he is a … He beats up my children; he abuses my friends. He came to my house, so I sent him away. That was about a year ago. And for whatever reason I don’t know, he came to my house last week and I said he should leave the house.
“Sometime ago, he even threatened to kill his mother. So, the mother was not even feeling comfortable living with him. And he narrated that to me. That is why I also do not want him to be near me.
“I don’t know him to be a Boko Haram member. Never, never, I do not know him to be a member of Boko Haram.”
The senator gave a graphic account of how his house was raided by men of the JTF saying, “On Thursday, they went to my house. I was in Warri at that time; I went for an oversight function. My wife called me; she said the army people were at our gate. Actually, they went with four armoured vehicles and about 40 of them came to my house.
“They searched all the rooms and when they went to the children’s room, they broke all their cabinets and searched everywhere. When they could not found anything, then they assembled all the boys in my building, took them out and put them under the scorching sun. Actually, before doing that, they beat them up. We had to take them to hospital later.
“Under this traumatized condition, they asked them whether they know one Shuaib Bama. They said, of course, they know when they see him.
“One of them was asked to go and show them where he is living. As they were going, when they were about to reach the house, they stopped. In fact, they blindfolded the boy. And one of the officers asked one of the personnel to come down so that they should follow him to the house without the boy telling them where the house is.
“So, as they started going, the other officer sitting down asked him: ‘If you know the house, then why should we pick this boy?’ And after some arguments, they went to the house and arrested the boy [Bama].”
The senator continued narrating his account saying, “Contrary to the claim of the JTF, the boy was arrested in Rabi Street, off Damboa Road. And the house belongs to Senator Ali Modu Sheriff. Before, the house belonged to one Abba Mala, a Cameroonian. And later, he sold it to late Tijjani Banki and Sheriff bought from Tijjani Banki.
“I reacted because they said they arrested the boy in the house of a serving Senator along Damboa Road and I am the one living along Damboa Road.
“I really do not understand why they did all these. I am confused. If they want to frame me up, they have failed in that one because they did not get that boy in my house. I have nothing to do with it. Let them go and ask the person where the boy was staying. So, they should not have mentioned my house.”
The senator gave a possible reason for being singled out by the JTF for witch-hunt saying that it must be his opposition to the mode of operation of the military men who he accused of killing innocent people, harrassing them, and extorting money from many others.
He said, “This story emanating from the JTF is actually as a result of an interview which I carried out(granted) in BBC last week – asking for their withdrawal from the state because they are not working according to the rules of engagement.
“I noticed that they are just killing innocent people, killing them unnecessarily, harassing their families, extorting money. All these have been going on and I became so concerned.
Particularly, the killing and burning of houses became the order of the day.
“At least, 300 houses were burnt within the last one and a half months. And it will not be an exaggeration for me to say that up to 500 people have been killed by the bullets of the JTF.
“I called for their withdrawal because even Boko Haram cannot do more than that. If they have come to protect us, they are not supposed to eliminate our young ones. Most of the people affected are young ones.”