Gov. Sule Initiated, Funded Our Militia Group – Bodejo, Meyetti Allah Leader Tells Probe Panel

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The President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Bello Bodejo, has alleged that Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State was behind the establishment and funding of the ethnic militia group, Kungiya Zaman Lafiya.

Bodejo, who was arrested by operatives of the Defence Intelligence Agency on January 23, 2024, at the group’s office in the Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State for allegedly announcing the setting up of a militia group and who is currently facing terrorism charges, alleged that Governor Sule mounted pressure on him to form the militia group.

Bodejo, who has been in custody since then, was arraigned before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on three count charge of terrorism on March 22, 2024 for establishing the Kungiya Zaman Lafiya ethnic militia in Nasarawa State without authorisation.

The offence is punishable under Section 29 of the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022.

But, in his confessional statement obtained by Sunday PUNCH, Bodejo alleged that Governor Sule was behind the formation of the militia group, saying that he received a call from the governor earlier in the year expressing his desire to establish a vigilante group different from those of his counterparts.

In the words of Bodejo; “I was arrested because of the vigilantes I paraded in Nasarawa State. Sometime in early January 2024, Governor Sule called me and said that he wanted me to see him concerning a Fulani group called Kungiya Zaman Lafiya, which I told him I didn’t know about. The governor said what he called me for was because all the governors had agreed to form vigilante groups in their states like Katsina State had done, but he did not want to organise his like other state governors.

“He said he wanted to use all those who participated in the political rally before the election. And he intended to link them with the Army and they would work for him as vigilantes. The governor asked if I could work with Akajo, the leader of the group and I told him that I couldn’t come down to work with Akajo because I am from the national level. Later, I called Akajo to meet me and we discussed how to operate the Kungiya Zaman Lafiya in the state. I told the Emir of Lafia that people complained about the group and I didn’t like them.

“However, I asked Akajo about the number of his men. He said there were about 700 men. I demanded for their ID cards which he showed me; the ID cards were authorised and signed by the CSO to the Nasarawa State governor. About two weeks later, Governor A. A. Sule called me to come with Akajo,” he said.

Bodejo further said that he met with Akajo and Sule at the Governor’s Lodge in Abuja, adding that despite informing the governor of the negative narratives about Akajo’s group, he insisted that he (Bodejo) worked with him.

According to Bodejo; “So, I left Bauchi and sent for Akajo to meet me at the Governor’s Lodge. When I got to the lodge, I met Akajo with the governor. The governor enquired what was happening between me and Akajo. I told him that Akajo and his group were spoiling the good name of the governor by causing crises, stealing cattle, and killing people.

“They went and cleared the Toto LGA problem. When they got there, they gathered Fulani and harassed them. The Fulani ran away, leaving the cattle. Akajo and his group gathered the cattle and sold them. The governor insisted that I should work with him.”

Bodejo said that other people from the Nasarawa, Obi, and Kyana Local Government Areas of the state who were meant to join Akajo’s group pulled out because Akajo failed to give them their share of the fund released by the governor.

In his words; “I told the governor that I requested for the group’s list from Akajo so that I could join it with my people to make up the 2,000 and that he had not given me. The governor said we should have a meeting in Lafia.

“During the meeting, I told the Ardos what the governor wanted to do with the Kuniya Zaman Lafiya and they bought the idea. During the meeting, one member of the Kunya Zaman Lafiya complained that they were not benefiting from anything. I immediately called the governor to inform him.

“The governor affirmed that all funds were released to Akajo for the group. So, it was Akajo, who failed to settle them. On this revelation, the people were angered and the people from Nasarawa, Obi, and Kyana LGAs said they could not join Akajo’s group. The governor instructed that I should make do with the existing 700 members of the Akajo group and if possible I should make it up to 1,000.”

Bodejo further said that after the meeting, he met with one of his friends, Captain Ahmed Ciroma (rtd), who advised him to make the establishment of the group legal, adding that Ciroma made a write-up, which they both presented to the governor, adding that when Governor Sule was presented with the write-up, he rejected it.

According to Bodejo; “After the meeting, I met one of my friends, Captain Ahmed Ciroma (rtd), who is the deputy secretary of the Presidential Think Tank and explained everything to him. Captain advised that I make it legal; he said he would put a write-up for the governor, which he did, and the two of us went to present it to the governor. I don’t know what he wrote but after the governor read the paper, he said no that he wanted to run the state the way he wanted”.

Bodejo said Governor Sule then instructed him to meet with the Secretary to the State Government to discuss the cost of procuring kits for 1,000 members of the group, stressing that Ciroma advised him to be careful over the establishment of the group which he considered illegal.

He added; “The governor said I should meet the SSG and tell him the cost of procuring 1,000 uniforms and kits. Chiroma advised me to be careful with the governor because what he was doing was illegal. That is number one. The governor can’t just carry one tribe of Fulani as vigilantes, and secondly, he can’t carry one as security. He did not build schools for them, just this security vigilante group.”

Bodejo said Governor Sule called him the following day to inquire about the arrangements put in place for the establishment of the group, adding he pleaded with the governor to give him two weeks.

The leader of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore said that, not knowing what to do, he contacted Ciroma, who advised him to establish a nomad vigilante group and register it with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

According to him; “The following day, I was on my way to Bauchi and the governor called me. So, I stopped to see him in Lafia and he inquired about the arrangements. I told him to give us two weeks. I informed Akajo and sent a text message to Captain Ciroma, who agreed that we should meet in Bauchi. While in Bauchi, Ciroma advised that I should inform the governor that we would not use the Kungiya Zaman Lafiya, rather we would use Miyetti Allah and register it as a nomadic vigilante group.

“The governor said he had released funds for the uniform that I should contact the SSG, and when I contacted the SSG, he directed me to the state Deputy Commissioner of Police. He gave me N14,500,000, but I learned that the governor gave N15,000,000. I informed Captain Ciroma about the money and he advised that we should quickly register the nomadic vigilante group with the CAC to give us cover. We registered the group and were issued a certificate,” he said.

Bodejo said that after registering the group, he got the uniforms and presented them to the governor, saying that the governor was very angry and asked him to put Kungiya Zaman Lafiya on the badges of the uniforms.

He said, “We sewed the uniforms and put badges that showed the Nomadic Vigilante Group of Nigeria. When we took the sample to the governor, he asked us who told us that what he wanted was Kungiya Zaman Lafiya. He said I should remove the badges of the Nomadic Vigilante Group from the uniform and put Kungiya Zaman Lafiya. The governor was very angry with me and I left”.

Bodejo alleged that Governor Sule directed him to come with the Commissioner of Police and Director of the Department of State Services to his office, adding however that the meeting ended before he got to the Governor’s office, and said that Governor Sule directed him to parade the group on January 17, 2024.

He pointedly said; “On January 12, 2024, the governor called me and I told him I was in Bauchi. He said I should come with the state Commissioner of Police and the Director of the DSS. However, before I could arrive from Bauchi, they had finished the meeting. I met the governor after the Juma’at prayer and he said I should meet him in his office. He said he had directed that we should parade the Kungiya Zaman Lafiya with the uniform on January 17, 2024. He told me that he met the Commissioner of Police and the DSS Director.”

Bodejo said he met with the Commissioner of Police who was in support of the governor’s directive, but the DSS Director advised him to apply wisdom.

He said, “I met the Commissioner of Police and asked him if he supported the governor’s idea and he said yes. When I met the Director of DSS, he said we all knew that what the governor was doing was wrong but that he was the governor; that if I said I couldn’t do it, he might tag me as an enemy of the state and sponsoring bandits. He advised me that I should be wise about it.”

The Miyetti Allah leader said he was given N7.5m out of the N15m released by the governor to convey members of the group and to book the hall for the unveiling.

He said, “The Deputy Commissioner of Police gave me N7,500,000 out of the N15,000,000 released by the governor for the transportation of the group members to Lafia and payment for the hall in Lafia.”

Bodejo however said; “On the day of the unveiling, the governor, his SSG, and other officials were absent. On January 17, 2024, we assembled all the members in the hall in Lafia. On getting to the venue, I did not see the governor and the SSG. I called the governor and he told me he was in Abuja because the judgment on his case would come up on January 18, 2024, at the Supreme Court and that I should continue. I asked about the SSG or any governor’s representative. He gave different excuses for their absence. Then I sensed trouble.”

Bodejo said after the exercise, he realised that the governor planned to remove him from the equation to have full control of the group to carry out nefarious activities against the Fulani.

In the words of Bodejo; “The governor directed that I should march the group to the office of the Commissioner of Police after the ceremony. I did exactly that. However, it dawned on me after the whole exercise that the governor’s agenda was to extricate me from the state so that he could have his way to use the group to his advantage.

“I know that I am the only person who can stop the group from performing some nefarious activities against the Fulani. So now that I am arrested, his purpose has been accomplished because he knows that I never liked the group before he tactically involved me and backed out during the launch.”

When contacted, an aide to Governor Sule denied the governor’s involvement in the establishment of the Kungiya Zaman Lafiya.

Speaking on the matter on Friday, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Public Affairs, Peter Ahemba, urged members of the public to disregard any rumour linking his principal with the establishment of the militia as there was no iota of truth in it.

Ahemba said; “The Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, has no hand in the establishment of the Nomad Vigilante Group of Nigeria. The governor cannot authorise such an establishment when it has not been backed by the laws of the land.

“Governor Sule, being a man who believes in the rule of law, could not have just authorised or encouraged anyone to operate an illegal vigilante group.

“I am urging members of the public to disregard such misinformation and rumour because there is no truth in it. So, nobody or group of persons should drag him into a matter that he knows nothing about,” he said.

…Sourced from The Punch

 

 

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