Police speak on arrest of Borno politician at Atiku’s event

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar

The police in Borno State Wednesday confirmed the arrest of a Borno politician and governorship aspirant, Grema Terrab, who was wanted for alleged complicity in a murder incident that took place in his home.

PREMIUM TIMES broke the news on Tuesday of how Mr Terrab, who had evaded arrest since April when the incident happened, was eventually picked up during a political gathering hosted by former Vice president Atiku Abubakar, a 2019 presidential aspirant on the platform of the PDP.

The commissioner of police in the state, Damian Chukwu, officially confirmed Mr Terrab’s arrest at a press briefing held in his Maiduguri office.

Mr Chukwu said Mr Terrab was declared wanted by the police after he evaded arrest following the murder incident in his Maiduguri home while he was hosting an “unauthorised” political meeting.

The police chief, however, declined comment on what the police were doing with the arrested politician.

When journalists pressed to know where Mr Terrab was being kept, Mr Chukwu said “yes we have him in custody and he is presently with the CID unit; and if you want to see him you can go there and ask for him, that is if they would allow to see him.”

He did not say when or if the politician will be prosecuted.

Grema; Borno’s Political Gadfly?

Mr Terrab is one of the sons of a famous Borno politician, philanthropist and former secretary to the state government, Abba-Gana Terrab.

The late Abba-Gana Terrab was once a governorship candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in 1992 and was respected as one of the most influential politicians of his time.

He was instrumental to the victory of former governor of the state, Ali Sheriff, in 2003 when he handled the latter’s campaign organisation as its chairman.

The senior Mr Terrab died while serving as SSG in the first term of Mr Sheriff’s eight years in government.

To compensate the family politically, Mr Sheriff appointed late Mr Terrab’s eldest son, Abdurrahman Terrab, as a commissioner in his cabinet.

Mr Abdurrahman served all through the remaining tenure of Mr Sheriff and was later assisted by Mr Sheriff to be elected as member of the House of Representatives.

When Mr Sheriff, eventually parted ways with his erstwhile political God-son and successor, Governor Kashim Shettima, in 2014, Abdurrahman Terrab, chose to pitch tent with Mr Sheriff.

No government in Borno would want to ignore the Terrab’s. Hence Governor Shettima had to try to break into the Terrab political family by bringing in Abdurrahman Terrab’s younger brother, Grema, closer to the inner circle of his government.

The governor achieved that by periodically assigning the younger Mr Terrab to carry out ad hoc government functions. Mr Shettima later gave the young man a huge push on the rung of politics by reinvigorating the then moribund Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), and made him its first executive chairman.

Mr Terrab was to coordinate all the relief interventions for the state internally displaced persons through SEMA; and that alone, made him not only powerful but influential, especially amongst the youth in the state.

Exposed to money and power, Mr Terrab, it could be recalled, was the only one that could muster courage during the 2015 general elections to publicly denigrate the character of Mr Sheriff during most of the campaigns that led to the re-election of Governor Shettima. He dared the areas many mainstream politicians would not tread.

With the coming of a newly re-elected government, Governor Shettima had to dissolve his cabinet alongside all boards, including Mr Terrab’s SEMA.

When a new cabinet was formed, Mr Terrab was not enlisted to continue his chairmanship of SEMA, neither was he assigned any role in the new government.

Though PREMIUM TIMES has not been able to independently verify the rumour, it was said Mr Terrab may have steped on the toes of some big shots in the government and would not express remorse.

Apparently vexed by the fact that he was dumped, he suddenly chose to become a gadfly against Governor Shettima’s administration. He formed a viral political movement code-named “Borno Tafi Jam’iya”, which is a Hausa slogan that means “Borno state’s interest is above that of a political party.”

Mr Terrab used that slogan both on the streets of Maiduguri and on the social media, to earn himself some accolade and popularity as champion of the youth and the masses.

And when the Senator-elect representing Borno central, Ahmed Zannah, died before he was sworn in 2015, Mr Terrab teamed up with a PDP candidate, Kaka Bolori, to launch a fierce campaign that nearly snatched the seat from the ruling APC candidate, Baba Garbai, now a serving senator.

He told journalists during a press conference after his candidate lost the senatorial bye election that the Borno Tafi Jam’iya was a movement not for the lost election but for the future.

Mr Terrab continued to attack Governor Shettima’s government mostly on the social media, even as the state government continued to accord him zero attention or response..

He suddenly began to moot the idea of testing his political popularity by eyeing the highest office in the state under the platform of the PDP. He seemed to have been driven by the possibility of living out the unfulfilled dreams and vision of his late father.

And to ensure that he does not fail in his mission, Mr Terrab had to start earlier, long before INEC lifts the ban on any form of political activity.


In April this year, Mr Terrab decided to host a major political meeting in his Maiduguri home. And when he contacted the police for permission, he was denied on the grounds that doing so would not help the already strained security in the state.

Mr Terrab, however, decided to host the event in his home, arguing that he would rather hold a family meeting with his supporters. Unfortunately, halfway into the meeting, a fight reportedly broke out amongst his supporters and it turned out to be bloody. One of the political thugs enmeshed in the fray later died after he was reported to have been stabbed.

Mr Terrab needed no soothsayer to inform him that was in trouble. He chose to flee.

Unable to get him arrested to answer for homicide that happened in his home, the police swooped on his family members , including his pregnant wife who eventually lost her pregnancy while in detention.

Even though his family members were later granted bail after a protracted stay in detention, Mr. Terrab remained at large for about three months.

The police later declared him wanted.

In June, his colourful governorship campaign posters flooded the streets of Maiduguri. The police continued to wait patiently.

On Tuesday, the evasive Mr Terrab showed up at former vice president, Atiku Abubakar’s political function. The police moved in and arested him.

Mr Abubakar and other top politicians at the venue of the event could not save him. As a matter of fact, many did not know he was arrested.

The police may soon charge Mr Terrab to court for alleged complicity in culpable homicide.

With the arrest and potential prosecution, Mr Terrab may have a long journey ahead of him towards regaining his freedom.

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