By Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja
Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum on Monday debunked claims that terror groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP), are in control of parts of the state.
Professor Zulum spoke to State House Correspondents after a meeting he held with President Muhammadu Buhari on plans to repatriate Nigerians taking refuge in neighbouring countries, among whom are about 200,000 Borno citizens.
The governor also described recent report that terror group had appointed a governor over some sections of Borno State as unauthenticated, which he said he had not dignified with an investigation, adding that he is fully in charge of the state.
On the presence of insurgency in Borno State, Zulum said the phenomenon is not totally vanquished but noted that there is no part or region of the state that can be said to be under the control of terrorists.
According to him, his administration, in collaboration with the military and other security arms, are still working on ending the menace, but noted that insurgency of the dimension being fought in Nigeria is not easily put out overnight.
Zulum said: “What I’m saying is that the insurgency is not yet over. That’s the most important thing, but as of now, you cannot point out a particular local government in Borno State that is completely under the control of the insurgents.
“The fact remains that, I hope you know me very well, I’m saying the right thing, as at now, there is no region or portion of Borno State that you can term as being under insurgents, but the insurgency is not over yet, we are battling with them but their influence has been reduced. We’re looking forward to seeing how we can completely degrade them.
“You know, such dimensions of insurgency will take a longer period before somebody will say that insurgents are completely eliminated. But I think the federal government is doing well; the military, the para-military, the civilian JTF and the community have done well,” he said.
On reports of an appointed terrorist governor for parts of the state by Boko Haram and ISWAP, the governor said the claim remains unauthenticated, adding that his administration is not investigating the issue.
Recall that there was a report which claimed that the insurgents had appointed one Abba Kaka as the governor by an interim council.
“We are yet to validate the authenticity of this report that ISWAP appointed governor in Borno State. So, as the governor of the state, I think it’s not right for me to speak on something that I don’t have full knowledge of,” he said.
Governor Zulum said he would not investigate the claim, blaming the report on social media.
He added: “Not investigating. This report is not authenticated. You have just seen somebody written something in one of the…I think it’s on Facebook or something like that. You’re a journalist and I think we have to prove reports beyond reasonable doubts, before commenting on such reports.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m the Governor of Borno State and I don’t have any information that we have another government in the Nigerian state. Yes. And I’m very much in charge.”
The governor informed that he was at the Presidential Villa to seek the President’s assistance to repatriate the over 200,000 Borno citizens who fled from the insurgency to Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic.
He stressed the need to bring them back as, according to him, the security situation in the state has improved.
He said: “Now that we have started witnessing the gradual return of peace to Borno State, these people that are taking refuge in our neighbouring countries are willing to return home.
“Therefore, Borno State government picked a date of November 27, 2021, for the commencement of the repatriation process, especially to local government areas of Abadam and Guzamala.
“So, I came to brief Mr President, to solicit his support, with the view to ensuring hitch-free repatriation exercise.”
The governor, however, declined to place a figure on what it might take to implement the repatriation, saying: “I can’t quantify, but I think the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs with its agencies; NEMA, the Refugee Commission and indeed the Northeast Development Commission, lastly the Borno State government, have the capacity to shoulder the responsibility of the repatriation exercise.”
On the fate of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) still in camps in the state, Governor Zulum said the government is also working on returning them to their communities.
“On the issue of internally displaced persons, yes the IDP camps are not palatable, that is why the government of Borno State and the Federal Government are exploiting the potential of resettling them to their own communities or relocating them to areas that are safe,” he stated.