Snake Farm Owners Buratai Benefiting From Insurgency’ — Aisha Yesufu

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Aisha Yesufu, outspoken co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign group, may have insinuated that Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff, is benefiting from the insurgency.

This is according to a tweet by Yesufu on Friday, moments after widespread report of the killing of four United Nations workers and abduction of one by Boko Haram in Rann, Borno State.

“As long as the new billionaires in town who are building estates and hotels, owning houses in Dubai and other exotic places are Generals then the end to insurgency is far,” Yesufu wrote.

She added, “Making millions from snake farm to buy properties in Dubai requires a lot of attention. So one has to give!”

Past events suggest that Yesufu’s tweets could be referring to Buratai, whose family owns a house in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

In 2016, Sahara Reporters reported that Buratai failed to declare two luxury properties he owned in Dubai, thereby contravening the Code of Conduct Act.

But the Nigerian army leapt to Buratai’s defence, explaining that the said properties were not his possessions but his family’s.

Sani Usman, then Army Spokesman, explained that the properties were purchased in 2013, long before Buratai became COAS, and were paid for using “personal savings”. He added that the properties were duly declared in accordance with the law.

“It is a fact that the Buratai family have two properties in Dubai that were paid for instalmentally through personal savings three years ago,” Usman stated.

“This, along with other personal assets have consistently been declared by General Buratai in his Assets Declaration Form as Commander Multinational Joint Task Force Commander and as Chief of Army Staff.

“In a bid to rubbish the hard earned reputation and good name of the Chief of Army Staff, these blackmailers will stop at nothing hence all these kinds of mudslinging.”

Earlier, during HARDtalk, a BBC programme, Buratai had insisted that the said properties belonged not just to him but was part of a family investment.

“Substantial property is just an investment, my family do their own private business they should afford to have such property in Dubai,” Buratai was reported as saying.

“The type of property you are talking about is not the ones people are talking about. The property I invested was far back as 2013 before I became the chief of army staff, I never dreamt of becoming the chief of army staff and people are accusing me as if it is today.”

Also, it is common knowledge that Buratai is a lover of snakes, as he has a statue of an Egyptian cobra on his office table and owns a massive snake farm in Nasarawa State.

He spoke of his love for snakes during an interview with Daily Trust in January 2017.

“I have had strange encounters with snakes all my life. A snake once entered my room and I once found a snake in my staff car. I was a Major then,” Buratai said.

“Then sometime when I was in Angola, on the last day I was to leave and come back, I almost stepped on a snake while jogging along the road and had to jump over it. In addition to those ones, there were three or four other incidents with snakes.

“And when I went to Zimbabwe on a holiday in 1993, I went to one of the tourist attractions, a very popular snake park in Zimbabwe and I saw the way they kept them and how people were interested in coming to see them. It was very interesting. They had different species of snakes.

“So, I said, ‘It is a good idea and why can’t I gather all those ones I have been encountering and keep them?’”

There have been several indications that some people in the hierarchy of the Nigerian defence may be profiting illegally from the insurgency.

Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser, is still in custody on charges of corruption, having allegedly embezzled huge sums of money meant for the procurement of arms for the counter insurgency operations.

Similarly, many soldiers who got wounded in the fight against Boko Haram were abandoned to their fate with minimal or no support from the army.

Forgotten Soldiers, a five-part investigation sponsored by the ICIR in 2016, captured the sufferings and pains of such soldiers.

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