Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: As Gunmen Target Emir of Fika Again

Maiduguri — For the second time in less than six months, the Emir of Fika in Yobe State, Alhaji Muhammadu Abali Ibn Muhammadu Idrissa escaped death by the whiskers and pundits are yet to decipher the motive behind the moves by suspected gunmen to eliminate him.

Though members of the Jama'atu Ahlis Sunnah Lidda'awati Wal Jihad, also known as Boko Haram have allegedly killed a couple of traditional rulers, notably district, wards and village heads especially in Borno and Yobe States, many people say there is desperate move to sack the Emir of FikaAlhaji Muhammadu Abali Ibn Muhammadu Idrissa, citing the unprecedented tempo at which the monarch is being hunted.

The first attempt aimed at eliminating the royal father was on August 3, 2012 when a man attempted to detonate explosives close to the emir shortly after Friday prayers at the Central Mosque in Potiskum.

Shortly after the incident, police in Yobe State said only the suicide bomber died in the incident while six people including three civilians, the police orderly attached to the royal father and two other policemen sustained various degrees of injuries.

The second noticeable attempt aimed at eliminating the emir was on Monday, December 10, 2012 when gunmen, suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect launched a night attack and killed Muhammad Ali, the divisional police officer (DPO) in charge of Potiskum in a vouched attempt to attack the palace of the emir.

Residents said timely resistance by security forces repelled the moves by the attackers who made strenuous efforts to match and pull down the palace as well as the divisional police station adjacent to it.

The police station was razed down by Boko Haram attackers in 2009, but rebuilt last year.

It was gathered that the attackers had earlier in the day trailed the monarch's convoy on his way back to Potiskum from Kaduna, but could not penetrate his motorcade.

The Emir of Fika as Chairman of the Yobe State Council of Chiefs is reported to leading consultations with government officials, security operatives and the downtrodden on the way out of the unprecedented challenge bedevilling the state.

In fact, few days to the second but failed attempt at his life, the monarch has summoned all the traditional rulers and highlighted the need for them to remain focussed in finding a lasting solution to the security threats in the state.

He said as custodians of the people, they must keep on evolving new approaches and advising the people who are handling political offices to do what is right.

Weekly Trust learnt that even before he became the Emir of Fika, Muhammadu Abali has held various positions reported to be linked with espionage in the Nigerian security system.

Sources said that singular "advantage" may likely be the reason why the Boko Haram insurgents see him as an "enemy".

"They (gunmen) have killed countless retired and serving security men in the last three years as such, I look at the travails of our emir from that perspective," a palace source said.

The emir obtained a masters degree in Politics and International Relations from the City University, London between 1982 and 1983 and thereafter worked briefly with the former Owena Bank in 1984 before he moved to the then National Security Organization (NSO).

He rose to the rank of Senior Security and Intelligence Officer at the national headquarters in Lagos where he served in various departments and held many administrative and operational positions especially in operations and counter espionage units.

In June 1991, he voluntarily resigned from the State Security Service and set up a security consultancy firm called AKIS Services which engages in security consulting and supply of equipment and other security related services.

In December 1998, the new emir was appointed the Chief Security Officer of the Nigeria Railway Corporation and in 2007, he left and joined Total-Elf as the security coordinator at the Abuja office.

Professional courses attended by the then new emir between 1884 and 2004 included basic course at the Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre Sea School, Advanced Surveillance Course, Interrogation Officers courses, Psychological Operations and Intermodal Management course.

He was conferred with the title of Yerima of Fika in 2002 and turbaned the District Head of Potiskum by his late father on February 28, 2009 and less than a month after, he succeeded his father as the 13th Emir of Fika following the approval of his appointment by Governor Ibrahim Geidam.

In his acceptance speech, the new emir promised to foster unity and cooperation among the "divergent people" of the emirate though he acknowledged that there are many challenges ahead.

According to him, "we would reach out to build bridges, because there a lot of mending to do...in the last few years, there are problems due to political and other differences which caused disharmony among the people. Insha Allah, with the cooperation of my brothers and the community in general, we would achieve our objectives," he said.

Since then, the challenges confronting his stewardship kept on mounting even as some of the people close to him said the emir has remained resolute and prayerful.

Born in Potiskum on August 14, 1956, he attended Kaduna Capital School 1963 to 1969, Barewa College, Zaria 1970 to 1974, Land Dowle Tutors College, UK, from 1975 to 1977 where he did his A-level studies and, North Staffordshire Polytechnic, England from 1977 to 1980 where he bagged a Bachelor's degree in Modern Studies with specialization in International Relations.

For now, accessing the vicinity of the palace of the Emir of Fika is a herculean task, because all the major roads and allies leading to the area had been blocked.

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