Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno, on Monday dismissed as false, reports that the terrorist group, the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP), is now in charge of the state.
He said this when he briefed President Muhammadu Buhari on the planned repatriation of over 200,000 Nigerians displaced by insurgency and residing in Chad, Cameroun and Niger Republic.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the closed door meeting with the president at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Mr Zulum said the reports were not verified.
On the reported election of governor for Borno by the terrorist group, Mr Zulum dismissed the report, saying “the claim remains unauthenticated, I’m fully in charge of the state’’.
It would be recalled that a report had emerged about three weeks ago, claiming that members of ISWAP had appointed Abba Kaka as the governor of Borno, under a new restructured leadership by an interim council.
Mr Zulum, however, dismissed the report, saying: “We are yet to validate the authenticity of this report that ISWAP has appointed a 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. This report is not authenticated. You have just seen somebody writing 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 doubt, 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 state. Yes. And I’m very much in charge.”
Mr Zulum also disclosed that the state government would on November 27 commence the repatriation of the displaced Nigerians, “who were willing to return home because of the improved security situation in Borno”.
“I came to brief the president on the plight of Nigerians that are living in the Republic of Chad, Cameroun and Niger, especially the indigenes of Borno State, numbering over 200,000.
“Now that we have started witnessing gradual return of peace to Borno, these people of Borno taking refuge in neighbouring countries are willing to return home.
“Therefore, Borno state government has fixed a date of Nov. 27, 2021 for the commencement of their repatriation process, especially to two Local Government Areas of Abadam and Guzamala.
“So, I came to solicit for the support of the President with a view to ensuring a hitch-free repatriation exercise.
“The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs with its agencies; National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Refugee Commission, as well as the North-East Development Commission and the Borno State government have the capacity to shoulder the responsibility for the exercise,” he said.
Modalities are already being put in place to ensure the safety of the returnees, Mr Zulum said.
He said the Chief of Army Staff and heads of other security agencies had given assurances of adequate protection for the communities, where the returnees would reside.