Don't Replace Shettima With MILAD, Borno Residents Tell President Jonathan

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SAN FRANCISCO, February 21, (THEWILL) - President Goodluck Jonathan has been told not to replace the Borno State governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, with any military administrator (MILAD) because of the Boko Haram insurgency ravaging the state.

The residents of the state who gave the warning on Monday warned that any attempt to do so would definitely be resisted.

Rumour mongers had gone to town with the speculations that the President was tinkering with the idea of replacing  Shettima with a MILAD because of the resurgence of Boko Haram insurgency in the state and the apparent helplessness of the governor.

But the President's Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr.

Reuben Abati, was to deny this, saying there was no such plan.

Nonetheless, the Borno people appeared not convinced by Abati's explanation as the Borno Elder Forum, speaking on behalf of the residents, said the people are now wiser, especially with the  recent suspension of the  Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

Speaking at a media briefing on Monday, the Forum, represented by Mali Gubio, said President Jonathan would be dragged as far as the Supreme Court if  he replaced Shettima with a MILAD as being rumoured.

The group alleged that the President had perfected  the move to replace Shettima, saying  "We received this news with shock and disappointment and we see the plan as evasive, diversionary and abdication of responsibility by the Federal Government in tackling the crisis of insurgency.

' The Elders Forum added that it  'condemns in no uncertain terms this move which will lead to further escalation and complication of an already bad security situation on the ground.

' The Elders Forum said it was aware of the inaction of the Federal Government in bringing this conflict to a decisive end.

According to the Elders Forum, "There was no serious action or political will to deal with the problem of insurgency in Borno and the rest of the North - East.

  The Presidency should be reminded of illegality of this move and we see it as  an arbitrary action inconsistent with good governance and Democratic principles.

"We call on the Federal Government to retract this infamous intended action.

Many committees that have worked on the insurgency and submitted their reports and recommendations remain disappointed that no action has been taken by the Federal Government to date.

We see this as an  abdication of responsibility and lack of political will.

"We feel that Military operation is purely a professional matter and should not be politicised.

Security issues are handled by constitutionally established security outfits.

The Nigerian Armed Forced has the constitutional mandate to protect the nation under civil authority.

And the Governor of a State is the head of civil authority of the State and his presence does not in anyway prevent necessary military operations.

'Of course the President is the Commander - in - Chief  and Chief Security Officer of the nation.

This implies that should there be any success or failure of the forces, the bug stops at the Presidents doorsteps.

"The Governor of a state is only the Chief Security Officer of his state but lacks any control over national security forces.

States do not have lawful security outfits.
Therefore it is an aberration and vindictive to remove the Governor over issues he has no control on.

The President should live up to his responsibilities by not only rescinding this intended action but also empower our Military forces to bring the insurgency to an end professionally.

" While appealing to the National Assembly to quickly intervene and stop the alleged injustice, the elders asked President Jonathan to appreciate the sustained efforts Governor Shettima.

"The Governor has so far clearly demonstrated a sense of good and effective leadership in cushioning the effects of the insurgency on both the military and civilian population,' they said.

Adopting the stand of the Elders Forum, another organization, the  Northern Youth Unity Forum, North East Forum,  said: "That the intent, perceived or real, of the presidency to suspend the existing democratic institutions in the state; namely the executive and legislature, is to state the obvious, a gross breach of constitutional revision where and when such matter arises.

" The Forum led  by its chairman, Usman Mustapha lamented that "the state governors as chief security officers play mere advisory roles that may not be considered by the military and police formations who exercise, manage and control security services," asking   "Can we then blame a sitting governor in the prevailing situation (in Borno)?.

" According to the Forum,  "The governor of Borno State, in spite of the security challenges, has been working round the flock to deliver good governance to the people in line with the fundamental objective and directive principles of the state policy.

"We have not, as a people, lost confidence in our governor, whom we duly elected barely three years ago.

From the foregoing it is discernible that the action, if taken, will not only amount to inflaming the psyche of the silent majority in this part of the country that is already over heated.

"There are similar situations in other communities across the nation- state and such decisions were not taken by the government.

' In a related development, the Borno Youth vigilante group, aka Civilian JTF, said they were glad that President Jonathan , had denied that he had the plan of replacing Shettima and assured the president of their willingness to support the battle against the Boko Haram insurgents.

At a media briefing  addressed by its legal adviser, Jubrin Gunda, the Civilian JTF  appealed  to the president to still give mediation and dialogue a chance, saying   war will lead to nothing meaningful.

"Civilian JTF is not interested in confronting the insurgents but only are working for peace to return to the state.

We are willing to embrace any member of he Boko Haram sect that is willing to lay down his weapon and re-unite with the society," he said.

He however urged the Federal Government to immediately constitute a panel to dialogue with the insurgents, arguing that "insurgency cannot be suppressed by the might of the barrel of guns.