Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Obadiah Mailafia, has said he got his information on the alleged commander of Boko Haram from traders in a local market.
Mailafia had in a radio interview on Monday claimed that one of the northern governors was the commander of Boko Haram. He had talked on the killings in Southern Kaduna, one of the parts of the North West region worst hit by banditry.
“Some of us also have our intelligence networks. I have met with some of the bandits; we have met with some of their high commanders – one or two who have repented – they have sat down with us not once, not twice,” he had said.
“They told us that one of the northern governors is the commander of Boko Haram in Nigeria. Boko Haram and the bandits are one and the same. They have a sophisticated network. During this lockdown their planes were moving up and down as if there was no lockdown.
“They were moving ammunition, moving money, and distributing them across different parts of the country.”
The former CBN deputy governor was subsequently invited and grilled by the Department of State Services (DSS) for several hours on Wednesday.
In another interview he granted to the BBC (Hausa service) on Thursday, Mailafia backtracked and said he got the information following his interaction with some Fulani traders he met in his village market, where he went to buy fonio (acha).
According to Daily Trust who monitored the interview, he apologised to all those who were offended by his statements, saying they were not targeted at anyone. He also said they were not aimed at causing trouble.
The former deputy governor of the apex bank maintained that he did not know that the video would go viral and he had agreed to an online radio interview with people who were unknown to him from Lagos, but did not know that they were recording it.
“I thought it was for a local FM radio in Lagos,” he said.
On what transpired between him and the DSS when he was invited to their office in Jos, Mailafia said, “when they invited me they told me they had seen a video clip in which I said I was against the killings of innocent people and that I met with some people who told me that when they are done with the villages, they will move to the cities and go after big personalities in their homes and lead war in the country. That was what I heard and I repeated it.
“They did their job as they should and I cooperated with them. I gave them the necessary information at my disposal and I cannot lie about what I do not know, so I told them to pardon me because I cannot say what I don’t know.
“It was not my intention for my words to go viral but since it has gone viral, I cannot say I did not make that comment.”
When quizzed further on the allegation of a northern governor being a commander of the terror group, he said he had already spoken to the DSS and would not want to create tension.
“What I can tell you is that I am a fan of President Muhammadu Buhari and the president is doing his utmost best but there are some wicked people around him who do not give him the right advice,” the former presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADP) said.
“I am not a troublesome person, my name is Mailafia (peace lover), I said what I said because of my sympathy for the people, my love for northern Nigeria. They are those who have been accusing me of not being a northern patriot but the killings are more in northern Nigeria.”
On Thursday, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) fined Nigeria Info 99.3 FM N5 million for providing its platform for Mailafia to make the allegations. The regulator described the radio station’s conduct as “unprofessional.”