For the first time in six years, the Borno State Government on Wednesday allowed the public celebration of the Muslim sallah festival.
The state government however said that it lifted the six-year ban on the public celebration of the festival following favourbale security reports.
Borno and other states in the North East have in the past six years been under violent attacks by members of the Boko Haram sect who have carried out several suicide bombing attacks on targets in public places, including mosques and other religious places.
Addressing newsmen after a meeting with security chiefs in Maiduguri, Governor Kashim Shettima said that the state government decided to lift the ban on public celebration of the sallah festival following the improved state of security and the restoration of normalcy to many parts of the state.
Shettima therefore urged the citizens of the state not to entertain any fear as they go about celebrating the end of the Muslim fasting period as adequate security measures had been put in place to forestall any untoward occurrence and ensure a hitch-free sallah.
He said, “There would be free movement in Borno State during this Sallah, after favorable security reports. We have, therefore, resolved not to restrict movement. We want to assure all our citizen not to fear. This is first time in 6 years that we are lifting ban on movement because the security has improved greatly. Also, our security agencies have been mobilized to make sure we have a hitch-free and peaceful Sallah celebrations.”
The governor added, “We thank Allah for making us to witness hitch-free Sallah celebrations in Maiduguri State today mark a milestone in the history of Borno State.”
At the end of the Sallah prayers at the Ramat Square, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai and other top officers moved to the Maiduguri Government House where they had breakfast with Governor Shettima to mark the completion of the Ramadan fasting period.
Some of the residents who spoke on lifting of the ban on free movement on sallah day commended the security agencies and state government for taking such a courageous decision.
A primary school teacher, Ya’gana Bukar, 38, said when he heard the news on radio on Monday evening, he could not believe it.
“I had to call a friend to authenticate the news. I am so happy, I think this will be the first time in the last 6 years that we would visit friends during Sallah celebrations.” He said.
A civil servant, Mohammed Kaomi also commended Governor Shettima and all the other stake holders for making this year’s celebrations unique by allowing free movement of the people.