CHAIRMAN of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Borno State, Mohammed Naga, has debunked media reports that he applauded the selection of the former governor of the state, Kashim Shettima, as the vice-presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
CAN had kicked against a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket following Shettima’s emergence as Tinubu’s running mate.
However, on Monday many media reports attributed a statement to Naga saying he was in support of Shettima as he was fair and supportive to the Christian community in the state during his tenure as governor.
Part of the alleged statement attributed to Naga, a bishop, read, “My brothers, those who are not from Borno State may not know, but you and I know better. In the history of Borno State, there is no governor that has been fair to the Christian Community in this state as much as Governor Kashim Shettima. I am saying this in the presence of God Almighty and this is nothing but the truth. Governor Shettima, in the history of Borno, is the only Governor that has sponsored the highest number of Christian Pilgrims every year since 2011.
“I am speaking boldly without fear or favour because as CAN Chairman I do not receive salary or kobo from the government or any institution, but the facts need to be told.
“This governor has shown compassion to the Christian Community.
“For example, when Gwoza people were driven from their ancestral homes, they fled to Maiduguri, and the governor personally came to CAN Centre in Jerusalem Ward two times in June and July 2014. He gave N10 million for their upkeep at first instance, but the victims were not many. By the end of October 2014, the IDPs from Gwoza increased to 42,000 in that camp alone. Governor Shettima came again and gave another N10 million. He also gave an additional N5 million to Christians from Borno who fled to Cameroon to be returned home.
However, Naga in an interview with PUNCH newspaper debunk the statement attributed to him.
“I have not granted an interview to anybody and never issued any statement. Was it not yesterday (Sunday) they said they had appointed him (Shettima)? How come I granted interview at the APC secretariat?” reports the newspaper.
He added that “Nobody called me. No journalist called me, except when this thing happened, when the papers were carrying it viral, then people were calling me.
“Right now, I’m somehow angry and not even composed to talk very well. The story they are carrying was in 2017 when Boko Haram was devastating Borno when Kashim Shettima was the governor.
Naga went on to explain some of the comments attributed to him were taken from what he said in 2017.
“They picked that story and I, being CAN chairman, they now levelled it against me. I am just framed up and I don’t even have trust speaking with journalists, including you, because I don’t know what else you will write.”
Nurudeen Akewushola is an investigative reporter and fact-checker with The ICIR. He believes courageous in-depth investigative reporting is the key to social justice, accountability and good governance in the society. You can shoot him a scoop via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 on Twitter.