A series of bomb attacks were carried out in Nigeria on Christmas Day, 2011. Reports indicate that the Boko Haram Islamic group claimed responsibility for the attacks., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Govt begins probe into Boko Haram member’s escape
Thursday, 19 January 2012 00:00
From Madu Onuorah (Abuja), Muyiwa Adeyemi (Ado-Ekiti), Wole Shadare (Lagos), Gordi Udeajah (Aba), Seye Olumide (Lagos), Lawrence Njoku (Enugu) and Njadvara Musa (Maiduguri) News
Queries IG, confirms arrest of policemen
CAN, others seek prosecution of CP
AS shock and anger continued to trail the alleged escape of a suspected Boko Haram member, Mallam Kabiru Sokoto, from police custody, the Federal Government yesterday launched an investigation into the development.
Mohammed was arrested for masterminding the Christmas Day bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State in which at least 43 people died and 50 injured.
Piqued by the alleged escape, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) urged yesterday that the police commissioner to whom the escape was linked and other persons connected with Boko Haram’s activities, should be arrested and prosecuted.
The Federal Government’s probe is being undertaken by the Presidency, Ministry of Police Affairs and the Police Headquarters.
In fact, the Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade (rtd), yesterday noted the urgency of the investigation when he said: “Whatever step we are to take as a result of this neglect, we have to take it immediately.” He has ordered that the suspect be re-arrested.
Olubolade confirmed the arrest of all the persons involved in the operation leading to the escape of the top Boko Haram suspect, Kabiru Sokoto. Already, the Police Commissioner in charge of investigation of the Boko Haram sect leader, Zakari Biu, has been placed under house arrest on the orders of the minister.
Olubolade, who described the escape as “unfortunate incident,” told journalists at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting that, “measures will be put in place now to address the suspect’s escape. From the ministry, I have directed the IG (Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim) to carry out full investigation. And even at higher level, above that one, there will be another investigation to ascertain what led to the suspect escape. I have also directed that the officers and the personnel involved should be detained immediately. The Commissioner of Police has been suspended. In fact, beyond that, I have advised that they should be placed under close arrest.”
Olubolade also confirmed that he had also queried the IG, “because he is the field officer. He has the responsibility to ensure all operations regarding arrest and all that are conducted in the usual manner. If he is found to have had complicity in that, he himself will have to account for his mistake.”
Asked if the IG may be sacked over the escape of the top suspect, Olubolade stated: “Yes, anybody including myself.”
Asked if the query to the IG was an indication that there had not been a good working relationship between his ministry and the police, Olubolade said: “It is not an indication. If somebody has erred in his responsibility, the outcome of the investigation will prove that. Whatever step we are to take as a result of this neglect, we have to take it immediately.”
Queried further if the escape was a confirmation of the position of President Goodluck Jonathan that Boko Haram had infiltrated the government, Olabolade said: “I cannot confirm that statement. What is important is all steps must be taken to re-arrest the suspect.”
The National President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, described the development as shameful and that it was a confirmation of the fear that some officials of the security agencies may have compromised over the Boko Haram insurgency.
The Abia State Chairman of CAN, Bishop Goody Okafor, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Budget and Research, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele and the Prelate of Methodist Church Nigeria, Dr. Sunday Ola Makinde, also decried the alleged escape and canvassed a thorough investigation into the matter.
Oritsejafor urged the Federal Government to insist that the said police commissioner should be given an ultimatum to produce the escaped terrorist or all his co-travellers should be prosecuted according to the nation’s laws.
He also said that everybody remotely linked to “this national embarrassment should be brought before a court of competent jurisdiction and tried in accordance with the nation’s statutes.”
He maintained that the suspension of the police commissioner should only be a prelude to proper investigation or judicial inquiry and proper arraignment before the law court, arguing that retirement would not be enough.
According to him, “that is the only way this nation can assuage and compensate the families of all those who lost their lives in the Christmas Day bombings and all other mindless attempts to annihilate Christians in different parts of the North.”
Oritsejafor urged the Federal Government to use this case to convince the international community that it is committed to the war against terrorism by investigating those involved and prosecuting them accordingly.
He noted that the escape was a sad reflection of what the leadership of Christians in the country had been drawing attention to in the last couple of years.
“It’s a shame! It’s sad! It’s sad that those in charge of the nation’s security are making a mockery of the nation and inadvertently bringing the entire nation to disrepute among the comity of nations,” he said.
The cleric, however, wondered whether the man really escaped. He also wondered if the terror suspect was aided to escape justice by those who should prosecute him, saying: “Doesn’t this vividly confirm what has been said by an American whistle blower, Wikileaks? Does this not also confirm what we have been saying that there is a grand design by a certain group to Islamise the nation?”
He lamented that some Nigerians who were expected to have addressed the real issue behind the Boko Haram crisis had always accused Christian leaders of heating up the polity.
“Anytime we say the truth, when we say some of these things, we are labelled enemies of the nation. So, it’s just okay to pretend that all is well and there is nothing wrong.
“But sooner or later, these things explode on our faces and nobody is courageous enough to voice the truth. Why? And we all pretend to be building blocks of unity,” he said.
While challenging the security agents to investigate the matter, Oritsejafor said: “When this man was arrested in the Borno State Liaison office in Abuja, he was said to be in the company of a serving military officer who actually escorted him from Kaduna to Abuja. Where is that military officer now? Has he also escaped custody?”
Also, in Enugu State, the police command yesterday allayed fears of reprisal attacks, following an alleged killing of Igbos in the northern parts of the country.
In a statement issued in Enugu by the Enugu command’s Public Relations Officer, DSP Ebere Amaraizu, also dismissed as mischievous and misleading news reports circulated in Enugu that the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) had asked the Igbo to prepare for reprisal attacks.
Amaraizu said the reports were capable of causing bitterness among the people of the state, assuring, however, that the police and other security agents were working to ascertain the source of the reports.
Besides, the Nigeria Army authorities have said that their outpost in Budum ward of Maiduguri metropolis in Borno State, was attacked on Monday by a suspected Boko Haram gunman, killing a soldier and senior official of the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), Abba Kyari, 39.
The Joint Task Force (JTF) Field Operation Officer, Col. Victor Ebhaleme, told The Guardian that the military post in Budum was attacked by a lone gunman.
The JTF also yesterday arrested six suspected members of the Boko Haram group, following clashes between the armed sect and men of the JTF in Ajilari Cross and London Chiki wards of Maiduguri.