Following the uproar the trailed the presence of former Borno state governor, Ali Modu Sheriff in Chad on Monday, September 8, 2014 at a meeting between, President Goodluck Jonathan and President Idriss Deby in the Chadian capital Ndjamena, indications have begun to emerge as to why Sheriff was in Chad during the visit which was to hold talks on the threat of Boko Haram insurgents, a group Modu Sheriff has been constantly linked to.
According to Vanguard, Modu Sherif is a big gun when it comes to affairs in Chad more than most Nigerians know. According to an unnamed senior government official who is in the know as to the president’s trip to Chad, Sheriff’s sphere of influence is not just economic and political, but extends to the office of the president of Nigeria’s North Eastern neighbour.
The official who pleaded anonymity stated that ”what many Nigerians do not know is that Senator Modu Sheriff is a personal friend of the Chadian president for over ten years. He is a regular visitor to the presidential Villa in N’Djamena who does not need any special security clearance to go into the official residence of the president of Chad. He was in Chad several days before the president went and he was not only part of President Idriss Deby’s delegation to receive the president but was also allowed access to the tarmac as any other top officials of that country”
Investigations reveal that Sheriff’s power in Chad comes from the fact that he has huge investments in the country and is a respected personality within government circles in Chad because of his popularity.
The official further enthused: “What Nigerians don’t know is the fact that the decision to allow the former Borno governor to the airport and to the presidential waiting room at the airport was entirely that of the Chadian Government and its security services. The Nigerian delegation had nothing to do with that. He came with the Chadian president as a friend who happened to be a Nigerian. President Jonathan needed the cooperation of the Chadian Government to block Boko Haram terrorists from using Chad as a launch base to attack Nigeria or as a route to bring in illegal weapons. Even if he was not comfortable with being publicly identified with the former governor of Borno state because of recent Boko Haram controversy around him, it was not his decision on who accompanies his host to the airport. The only point where the Nigerian authority had powers to decide was at the bilateral security meeting between the two countries. It was purely a security matter and only the two presidents and their security chiefs were involved in the meetings. The assertion that the former governor of Borno state was part of the meeting between Nigeria and Chad to discuss about Boko Haram is completely wrong and incorrect”.
During prolonged altercations with Boko Haram in 2009 which led to the death of the sects leader Yusuf Mohamed, Modu Sheriff’s name was touted as sponsor of the group, while others said it outgrew his control.
The perception that he is a major sponsor of the group was further fuelled when Stephen Davis, an Australian national trying to independently secure the release of the over 200 girls abducted by Boko Hara pointed accusing fingers at Sheriff, naming him as a major sponsor of the group.