FG Re-Opens Maiduguri Airport for Modu-Sheriff 24 Hours after Denying Gov Shettima Same
The Federal Government displayed double standard and its penchant for the witch- hunting of political opponents on Monday when its granted approval to the former Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff to use the Maiduguri International Airport, whereas, the state governor who is a member of the opposition was denied access to the same airport on Sunday.
Mr. Sheriff visit to Maiduguri via the airport said to be closed to flight of any kind was to consult with his supporters who are expected to join him in decamping to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), from the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Federal Government had on June 27, closed the airport for a period of three months, over what it described as security reasons.
All those intending to use the airport including pilgrims travelling to the holy land of Mecca were barred from accessing the airport. They had to travel to Kano to fly via the Kano airport.
But when former Governor Ali Modu Sherriff who recently just decamped from the APC to the PDP decided to visit Maiduguri, the airport was opened for his private jet.
The plane which conveyed Mr. Sheriff at the airport landed at about 2 p.m in Maiduguri and departed at 2:22pm. The private jet is expected to return to Maiduguri on Tuesday to airlift the former Governor.
Mr. Sheriff’s visit to Maiduguri comes barely 24 hours after Governor Kashim Shettima left the state capital for Abuja by road, as the military the military said the airport was closed for security reasons.
Speaking for the Governor Kashim Shettima, his adviser on Media, Umar Gusau, said his boss was being politically witch hunted by the closure of the airport causing the governor and his family members to travel by road, even though they are at the highest risk of being attacked by Boko Haram.
Mr. Gusau said this in a statement emailed to journalist on Monday. Read excerpts of his statement below.
“Following the closure of the Maiduguri International airport by the Federal Government on June 27, 2014 for a period of three months, intending pilgrims for this year’s lesser hajj were forced to travel by road to Kano amidst fear over their safety.
“One of such intending pilgrims, Shettima Mohammed Shettima, the immediate elder brother of both parents, to Governor Kashim Shettima was on Friday involved in a ghastly motor accident resulting in the death of a policeman travelling with him while he had multiple fractures on both legs.
“A policeman was attached to him following threats to his life by Boko Haram elements in addition to being a high risk person due to his relationship with the Governor.
“The accident occurred 20 kilometres away from Damban in Bauchi State while the Governor’s brother was travelling to board a max airline to depart Kano for Saudi Arabia. The accident occurred at about 2pm.
“A max airline chartered flight had arrived Maiduguri airport on Friday, June 27, 2014 to airlift 276 intending pilgrims from Borno and Yobe States who had been screened and were awaiting airlift. Despite intervention by Governor Shettima, soldiers from the army however took over the airport and ordered the plane to take-off without a single pilgrim while the pilgrims were forced to travel by road, departing Maiduguri in the evening and arrived Kano at about midnight before they were airlifted to Saudi Arabia.
“Skynet International Limited which chartered the flight said it followed all processes and had gotten clearance from the army, air force and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria before it began preparations for the airlift. The airport was thereafter closed till September 29, 2014 by the time hajj airlift would have been concluded.
“As the airport closure was still in force, Governor Kashim Shettima yesterday embarked on a trip by road to Kano to see his immediate elder brother and most senior member of his family since the Governor has since lost both parents. The Governor’s convoy was without soldiers.
“While the Governor went about travelling by road, Ex-Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff was permitted by the Federal Government to fly into the closed Maiduguri International Airport. Sheriff arrived the airport at about 1:32 PM, on board his private jet with registration number 5NBMH to the waiting hands of dozens of soldiers led by the Garrison commander, seven division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri, Colonel D.R. Hassan who led troops to give cover to the Ex-Governor.
“The plane departed the airport at 2:22pm and is expected to return on Tuesday to airlift the former Governor. Sheriff is expected to defect to the PDP and lead the re-election bid of President Goodluck Jonathan in Borno State.
“Dismembered youth political groups called ECOMOG that was associated with rival violence during the Sheriff administration were re-mobilised by Sheriff’s men as they stormed the airport. Governor Shettima had in the last three years introduced a policy of suspending political thuggery to have youths provided with vocational skills to
become self employed. Some of ECOMOG thugs were last year trained on poultry agriculture.
“A campaign office belonging to Sheriff was painted in white while it is expected to wear PDP colours in coming days. Some key associates of Sheriff including a serving member of House of Representatives, Kangar, had in an interview published last week in some Newspapers said Sheriff had made up his mind to defect to the PDP”, Mr. Gusau
said in the statement.