Saturday, 13 September 2014

Why President Jonathan Could Not Avoid Modu Sheriff In Chad – Aide

MEETING: From right;  President Idriss Deby of Chad; President Goodluck Jonathan and former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff at a meeting in Chad on  Monday. Photo: NAN.

A lot has been said about the Presidential visit of President Goodluck Jonathan to his Chadian counterpart, the main issue being the inclusion of Ali Modu Sheriff in the delegation that received the President on arrival.
Ali Modu Sheriff has been accused of been a sponsor of the deadly Boko Haram. In this report by Vanguard an unnamed presidential Aide explains that it was not the decision of President Jonathan to make.

After the dilemma the presidential delegation was allegedly thrown into when they arrived the Chadian capital and found that the former Borno State governor was not only in Chad but was also  part of the Chadian President’s delegation that came to receive the president at the airport, more facts have emerged on why Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the former governor of Borno State was in Ndjamena, Chad during the visit of President Jonathan to the country recently.

According to Saturday Vanguard’s investigations, Senator Modu Sheriff is deeply entrenched in the affairs of Nigeria’s north eastern neighbour more than it is publicly known to most Nigerians. According to a senior government official who was privy to the president’s trip to Chad, Senator Modu Sheriff is not only entrenched in the economic and political affairs of Chad he also exerts influence in the highest office of the land.

According to the official who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, ‘what many Nigerians do not know is that Senator Modu Sheriff is a personal friend of the Chadian president for over ten years. He is a regular visitor to the presidential Villa in N’Djamena who does not need any special security clearance to go into the official residence of the president of Chad. He was in Chad several days before the president went and he was not only part of President Idriss Deby’s delegation to receive the president but was also allowed access to the tarmac as any other top officials of that country.

Saturday Vanguard’s investigation revealed that Senator Sheriff’s influence in Chad stems from the fact that he has extensive investment in Chad and he is also treated with  respect with the government and the people of Chad because of his  popularity.

“What Nigerians don’t know is the fact that the decision to allow the former Borno governor to the airport and to the presidential waiting room at the airport was entirely that of the Chadian Government and its security services. The Nigerian delegation had nothing to do with that. He came with Chadian president as a friend who happened to be a Nigerian. President Jonathan needed the cooperation of the Chadian Government to block Boko Haram terrorists from using Chad as a launch base to attack Nigeria or as a route to bring in illegal weapons.

Even if he was not comfortable with being publicly identified with the former governor of Borno state because of recent Boko Haram controversy around him, it was not his decision to make to his host, who to bring with him to the airport. The only point where the Nigerian authority had powers to decide was at the bilateral security meeting between the two countries. It was purely a security matter and only the two presidents and their security chiefs were involved in the meetings. The assertion that the former governor of Borno state was part of the meeting between Nigeria and Chad to discuss about Boko Haram is completely wrong and incorrect”.

At the peak of the Boko Haram’s confrontation with security forces in 2009 which led to the death of its founder, Mallam Yusuf; Modu Sheriff’s name featured prominently as one of the sponsors of the sect which some people argued, outgrew his control. Even after he left office, Modu Sheriff  remained on the radar as one person many Nigerians believe, rightly or other wise, as knowing more than he is willing to admit about the Boko Haram sect.

This perception was given further fillip earlier this year when an Australian security expert and negotiator, Stephen Davis pointedly accused Sheriff and former Chief of Army Staff, General Azubuike Ihejirika of being major sponsors of the Boko Haram sect.

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