Borno politician and member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Muhammed Abba-Aji, has accused the state government of ordering the removal of opponents’ campaign posters and billboards in Maiduguri, the state capital.
Mr Abba-Aji, a former senator, who is currently the PDP candidate for Borno Central senatorial district, made this allegation at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday.
The lawmaker, who was until recently a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) also accused the state governor, Kashim Shettima, and the state’s Attorney General, Kaka-Shehu Lawan, of hostility toward the opposition.
The allegation was denied by Mr Kaka-Shehu, who said Mr Abba-Aji did not only misrepresent facts but also risks being dragged to court for lying.
Mr Abba-Aji said his campaign posters and that of other PDP candidates in the state were pulled down on the eve of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Maiduguri on Wednesday.
The president visited Maiduguri on Wednesday where he met with military chiefs, soldiers fighting Boko Haram and traditional leaders.
The opposition candidate said the state government’s intention was to conceal the popularity of the opposition party in the state.
“We would like to bring to the notice of the world what the citizens of Borno State, and particularly the candidates and supporters of the PDP are currently going through in Borno State,” he said.
“Last (Tuesday) night, all posters, banners and billboards of all PDP candidates were destroyed on the orders of Governor Kashim Shettima, using an illegal security outfit which, he devised and named ‘BOYES’.”
“In spite of its illegality however, ‘BOYES’ is surprisingly being supervised by the Attorney General, who is supposed to be the chief law officer of Borno State.”
He also said the governor planned on using the security structures of the state to rig the 2019 election since he had lost popularity.
He said anytime the governor was challenged on his high handedness, he ordered the detention of critics and their imprisonment.
“While we all welcome Mr President to our dear state, we also expect him to call the governor to order,” he added.
Why camapaign posters were pulled down – Attorney General
Reacting to allegations, the attorney general said he may sue Mr Abba-Aji for spreading falsehood against him.
Mr Kaka-Shehu however confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that there was an exercise to remove posters illegally pasted on all public structures and spaces.
He said the exercise, which is still ongoing, was carried out by the officials of the Borno State Urban Planning Board and not the BOYES.
The Attorney General also said he did supervise the exercise.
“I am not surprised that Senator Abba-Aji, a supposedly informed elder statesman has no clear knowledge of what is on ground in Borno State,” he said.
“First, he even erred, grossly, to say that I supervised the removal of posters by members of BOYES, because I returned to Maiduguri from Abuja late in the evening of Tuesday being the day he quoted.
“And I must be frank to state that I was also aware that the Borno State Urban Development Board has commenced the removal of posters, billboards that are illegally mounted,” he said.
He also said as the chief law officer, “despite being a politician, I know my roles and demands of my office, and I cannot be accused of supervising the function of the Urban Planning and Development Board”.
He said though he supervises the BOYES, they do not interfere in the affairs of the board.
“As the Attorney General, I am aware that all posters, billboards that are mounted by any politician without first making payments to the revenue board would be removed irrespective of any political party – be it APC, PDP and others.
“And I am also aware that this is not a one off thing; it is going to continue even after the electioneering days,” he explained.
“And on a serious note, I will kindly ask Senator Abba-Aji to withdraw that statement at once or I sue him and claim damages,” he added.
PREMIUM TIMES checks within Maiduguri metropolis revealed that the billboards of Mr Abba-Aji and that of the PDP governorship candidate, Muhammad Imam, are still mounted, untouched, at strategic locations like Lagos street, UMTH junction, Polo junction and Eagle Roundabout.
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