The Emir of Gwoza,Borno State,Alhaji Idris Timta,was yesterday shot dead by suspected Boko Haram members in an ambush of three traditional rulers in the state.
The Emir of Askira, Alhaji Abdullahi Ibn Muhammadu Askirama and Emir of Uba, Alhaji Ali Ibn Ismaila Mamza who were in the same car with Alhaji Timta escaped unhurt in the attack at Tashan Alade on the Biu Road.
A policeman in the convoy was also shot by the insurgents but survived.
Time was about 9 am.
Northern governors were swift in condemning the development.
They called it a declaration of war against the traditional institution.
The traditional rulers were on their way to Biu to pick the Emir of the town so that they could all move in a convoy to Gombe State for the funeral of the Emir of Gombe, Alhaji Shehu Abubakar, who died on Tuesday evening at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London.
The Borno State Government confirmed the attack in a statement by the Secretary to the Sate Government,Ambassador Baba Ahmed Jidda.
The late Emir of Gwoza ,according to a security source,had been earmarked for elimination by Boko Haram since April 13 when he openly castigated the sect for turning his domain into their main base and crippling economic activities of the area.
He said: “It is sad to say that my people have been blocked from going to the market by the insurgents, who kill at will.
“Even the food crops cultivated by them in the last farming season have ended up with the Boko Haram as the harvest were seized by the insurgents making life unbearable.
“There is an urgent need for the security agents to intensify and change their tactics of operation to stop the mass killings in this area.
“If care is not taken my people will completely flee the area to neighbouring states and countries for safety.”
A security source said :”In spite of the security ring around the late Emir, the insurgents had been on the trail of him with several threats against his person.”
“They did not like his audacity in spite of the fact that they were operating at his doorsteps. The statement of the Emir hurt the insurgents who waylaid his convoy on Friday while on his way for the burial of the Emir of Gombe.
“We are suspecting that they might have acted on intelligence on the movement of the Emirs. This development has fueled internal collaboration with the insurgents.
“You can see why the war against the insurgents is difficult in the North-East because you do not know who is working or not for Boko Haram.”
The Borno SSG,speaking on the incident yesterday said: “ The late Emir of Gwoza had visited his counterpart, the Emir of Uba on Thursday and passed the night in Uba ahead of their planned trip on Friday.
“ The two Emirs were this morning (yesterday), joined by the Emir of Askira. The trio drove in the same vehicle with the intention of going to Biu to be joined by their counterpart in Biu.
“Unfortunately as they were driving in a convoy to Biu, they were ambushed by gun men around Tashan Alade, soon after passing Garkida.
“The gunmen came after the convoy,specifically targeted the vehicle conveying the three Emirs and opened fire.
“ The Emir of Gwoza was unfortunately killed by the attackers while the Emirs of Askira and Uba escaped unhurt. A policeman in the convoy was shot by the attackers but he survived the attack.”
The late Emir was in the first class status following his recent elevation by Governor Kashim Shettima.
The Borno State Government described him as “a great man who worked very hard to promote peace and progress in Gwoza.”
It added: “ He was a pillar and one of the rallying points in Borno State. He visibly worked very hard in the search for peace in Gwoza since the insurgency began.
“Borno State Government is terribly shocked by this incident. The Government prays that Allah admits the late Emir into Aljanna Firadaus and give family, members of the Gwoza Emirate Council, the people of Gwoza, the State Council of Chiefs and the entire people of Borno State the fortitude to bear this very traumatic loss especially at a time the state is still dealing with equally disturbing issues related with security challenges in the state.”
The Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) yesterday described the killing of Emir of Gwoza Alhaji Idrisa Timta as irresponsible, callous, an affront and a declaration of war on the traditional institution.
Chairman of the forum,Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, in a statement through his Chief Press Secretary,Mr. Israel Ebije, expressed shock that the attack came at a time the federal government had concluded plans to grant the Boko Haram sect amnesty.
“This is indeed a sad development for us as a region and the nation at large. This is happening at a time we are all doing our very best to rescue our over 200 secondary school girls abducted by the Islamist terror group Boko Haram, from their school in Chibok, Borno state last month,” he said.
“We are particularly sad and worried about these ugly developments. We are indeed sad over the killing of the Emir of Gwoza in the recent attack”.
The Northern governors asked the leadership and entire members of the Boko Haram sect to embrace the amnesty offer promised by President Goodluck Jonathan,stressing that “dialogue remains the best option for resolving issues”.
They urged Nigerians not to lose faith in the country’s capability to overcome its security challenges.
Boko Haram had previously targetted some prominent traditional rulers in the North including the Shehu of Borno,Alhaji Umar Garbai el-Kanemi .
The Shehu and the Deputy Governor of the State ,Alhaji Zannah Mustapha had , in July 2012, survived an assassination attempt by a suicide bomber outside the palace mosque in Maiduguri.
The suicide bomber and four worshippers died in the attack soon after the Jumat prayers on July 13.
About three weeks later, the Emir of Fika in nearby Yobe State,Alhaji Muhammed Abali Ibn Mohammed Idrisa was the target of a similar bomb attack at the Potiskum Central Mosque.
Like the Shehu of Borno,the Emir escaped.His police orderly was however unlucky.He and the suicide bomber died in the blast.
Profile of the late emir
Alhaji Shehu Mustapha Idrisa Timta was born in 1942 to the family of the late Chief of Gwoza, Alhaji Idrisa Timta.
The late Emir was enrolled at the Muslim Elementary School, Gwoza in 1948 and later at Senior Primary School, Bama between 1952 and 1960.
For his post-primary education,he was a student of the then Provincial Secondary School now Government College, Maiduguri between 1960 to 1964.
He worked briefly as a teacher in Gwoza, before he got admission for a diploma programme in Sharia Law at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) ,Zaria .
He got a Higher Diploma in the same course in 1972.
Alhaji Mustapha Idrisa Timta worked in the then North – East judiciary in various capacities including Inspector of Area Courts and Principal Inspector of Area Courts before his appointment as the 3rd chief of Gwoza in October, 1981.
He was elevated to a second class Emir in 1987 and due to his hard work and loyalty to Government, he was elevated as a 1st class Emir in January, 2014.
The late Emir is survived by four wives, 28 children including Muhammad S. Timta, District Head of Hambagda; Isa S. Timta, Secretary of the Emirate Council; Lieutenant Abdulrazaq S. Timta of the Nigeria Army and Dr. Abubakar S. Timta.
He is also survived by brothers including Alhaji Haruna Idrisa Timta, a former Head of Service, Borno state; Alhaji Adamu Idrisa Timta, a Permanent Secretary in the state; Alhaji Yusuf Timta, Secretary, Gwoza Local Government; and Alhaji Umar Timta of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Maiduguri[The Nation]