SAN FRANCISCO, August 15, (THEWILL) – The Nigerian journalist declared wanted by the Nigerian Army over Boko Haram’s latest video, Ahmad Salkida, said he had commenced preparations to return to country to honour the invitation, but added that his journey home would be fast-tracked if the government could fund his trip.
In a statement he released on Monday, Salkida said his allegiance lies with Nigeria and his professional journalism work, pointing out that the Army knew he was not in the country prior to being declared wanted.
“The Army is aware that I am not in Nigeria presently. In the coming days I will seek to get a flight to Abuja and avail myself to the Army authorities. Indeed, my return will be hastened if the military sends me a ticket.
Salkida was declared wanted alongside two others on Sunday for their alleged ties to Boko Haram sect. The Army spokesman, Sani Usman, said in a statement that he alongside Ahmed Bolori and Aisha Wakil allegedly committed offences that contravened the Terrorism (Prevention) Act of 2011, by not providing information about the group.
Usman stated that the three individuals were also wanted for their alleged roles in the release of Boko Haram’s recent videos. The latest video released on Saturday showed Chibok schoolgirls abducted by the sect since 2014. The group said they would only release the girls if the government released its fighters.
Reacting to the announcement by the Army, Farooq Kperogi, an associate of one of the wanted persons, wrote on Facebook, “How can you declare people “wanted” when you haven’t even invited them for questioning-and they haven’t resisted your invitation? I just got off the phone with Ambassador Ahmed Umar Bolori, one of the people declared “wanted” by the Nigerian military.
“He told me he called the Chief of Army Staff, the spokesman of the Nigerian military who announced him “wanted,” and other top military officers and said he was at their beck and call and didn’t need to be declared “wanted” since he wasn’t in hiding.
“He went ahead and turned himself in at the top military barracks in Maiduguri, waited for more than two hours, but there was no one to interrogate or arrest him. He called and texted the chief of army staff and the military spokesperson again and pleaded with them to send somebody to detain, arrest, interrogate, or do whatever they wanted to do to him because he wanted to clear his name.
“He was later told to go home and return the following day! They told a “wanted” man to go home and come back the next day! Can you believe that? First, he is personally known to the chief of army staff and to the military spokesman. These people also know his home in Maiduguri. They know where to get him if they want to. Yet they declared him “wanted.”
On his part, Salkida said, in the statement, that the Army was declaring him wanted for simply carrying out his professional duties as a journalist, adding that he did most of his work with “total allegiance and sacrifice to the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
“Clearly, my status as a Nigerian journalist who has reported extensively, painstakingly and consistently on the Boko Haram menace in the country since 2006 is an open book known to Nigerians and the international community,” he said.
Salkida, who has written extensively about the Boko Haram sect, said he had visited Nigerian three times within the past year on the invitation of the Nigerian government, in an effort to rescue the abducted girls.
“As a testimony to the credible and professional values of my access, since May 2015, l have been to Nigeria three times on the invitation of Federal Government agencies. I made personal sacrifices for the release of our Chibok daughters,” the journalist added.