The Abia State Government has for the first time stated its position on the arrest of 486 suspected Boko Haram insurgents in its territory, saying it has no hand in the arrest, which was purely a security issue, professionally handled by the appropriate authorities.
The government’s clarification was contained in a statement issued at the weekend by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Theodore Orji, Mr. Charles Ajunwa, following insinuations and allegations from politicians and groups in northern part of the country accusing the state government of instigating the arrest of the suspects.
Some members of the Jigawa State House of Assembly had reportedly threatened to drag the Abia State Government to court if Jigawa indigenes among the arrested suspects were not released without further delay.
“The position of Abia State government is that the security agencies should be allowed to thoroughly investigate this matter. Those meddling into this matter through their reckless and unguarded utterances aimed at weeping up sentiments for the detained suspects are the real problems of this country,” the statement said.
He said the utterances of such individuals and groups had portrayed them as unpatriotic Nigerians having left the substance to chase shadow in the face of the daunting security challenges facing the nation.
“These unpatriotic elements for no just cause have deliberately employed all kinds of guerrilla tactics to tarnish the good image of the Abia State government simply because it exposed and alerted the nation including the international community on the arrest of 486 suspected Boko Haram members by a team of vigilant and gallant soldiers on routine patrol at Aro Ngwa and Imo Gate along Enugu/Port Harcourt expressway,” he said.
Ajunwa stated that Abia State government had “at no time ordered the arrest of the 486 Boko Haram suspects travelling in a convoy of 35 buses in the cover of darkness as their surreptitious mission had aroused the suspicion of team of vigilant soldiers on routine patrol hence the arrest.
The Army headquarters had already revealed that a notorious Boko Haram kingpin was discovered to be among the arrested suspects in the course of screening them.
“The soldiers who effected the arrests, merely carried out their constitutional and legitimate duties which are to protect the lives and property of the citizens especially now that insurgency is on the increase in Nigeria,” the Abia governor’s spokesman said.
He cautioned against using religious and ethnic veils to trivialise the arrest of the suspected insurgents, adding that: “The Nigerian security agencies have the capacity to do a thorough job and only needed the cooperation of all well-meaning Nigerians at this moment and “not distractions from self-acclaimed ethnic bigots who never meant well for the nation.”
Ajunwa dismissed the threat by some lawmakers in the Jigawa State House of Assembly to drag Abia State government to court if some of its citizens among the 486 Boko Haram suspects were not released, describing it as “laughable and diversionary.”
He said the Abia State government had not breached any law and so was not afraid of any law suit coming from the Jigawa lawmakers or any other group for that matter.
“Their utterances showed that they are lawbreakers and not lawmakers. Instead of the lawmakers to praise the Abia State government for providing the security agencies the enabling environment to discharge their constitutional duties, they are busy chasing shadows,” he said.
Ajunwa stated that the lawmakers were free to come to Abia state “to understudy how the robust synergy and cordial relationship existing between the executive and the state House of Assembly have ensured the atmosphere of peace and tranquility being experienced in the state today.”
He advised the Jigawa lawmakers, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and other individuals and groups of northern extraction trivialising the arrest of the 486 Boko Haram suspects in Abia, to channel their energies to things that will promote the unity of Nigeria not on things that will destroy the corporate existence of the country.
He further enjoined them to join hands with the President Goodluck Jonathan-led government in the fight against terrorism and insurgency.