Taye Obateru, Kingsley Omonobi, Lawani Mikairu & Daniel Idonor with agency report
ABUJA â€” LEADER of Boko Haram, the Islamic sect blamed for days of deadly violence in Nigeria has been killed in custody, police officials say.
The announcement came just hours after police said they had captured Mohammed Yusuf in the city of Maiduguri.
His followers have been blamed for violence in the north that has left more than 300 people dead.
â€œHe has been killed. You can come and see his body at the state police command headquarters,â€ said Isa Azare, spokesman for the Maiduguri police command, told told Reuters news agency.
He was arrested earlier in the day, after reportedly being found hiding in a goat pen at his parents-in-lawâ€™s house.
Yarâ€™Adua rallies govs against fanatics
And in a move to forestall further escalation of the sectarian violence in some states in the northern part of the country, especially after todayâ€™s Jumaâ€™at services across the country, Presidentt Umaru Yarâ€™Adua, yesterday, directed northern governors to mobilise traditional and religious leaders and mount a campaign in their respective states against â€œBoko Haramâ€, the religious sect that sparked off the crisis.
The president who gave the directive from far away Brazil, where he is on a State Visit, warned Nigerian young men and women who belong to other sects against fraternizing with â€œBoko Haramâ€ to disrupt the peace and security of the nation.
According to the Presidentâ€™s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, â€œPresident Umaru Yarâ€™Adua who is currently on a state visit to Brazil today (yesterday) called and spoke to most of the northern governors to advise that they mobilise traditional and religious leaders to mount a campaign against â€œBoko Haramâ€ that seeks to disrupt the peace and security of the nationâ€.
He expressed delight that many governors from the North have, on their own, commenced implementation of the initiative of waging campaign against the â€œBoko Haram; and encouraged other Governors to join in the campaign.
â€œThe President feels particularly encouraged that some governors have already started implementing this initiativeâ€, the Presidential spokesman said.
The president stated that religious groups such as â€œBoko Haramâ€ which seek to disrupt the peace and security of the Nigerian State, should not be the bride of any true Muslim individual or group, because according to him, Islam promotes love and peace among Muslims and non-adherents.
The President, Adeniyi noted, â€œspecifically seeks that governors encourage religious leaders to use the occasion of tomorrowâ€™s (todayâ€™s) Jumaâ€™at services in all the Mosques across the federation to warn young men and women about the danger of fraternising with sects like â€œBoko Haramâ€ and otherÂ such extremist groups which promote beliefs that infringe on the right of othersâ€.
Yusuf earlier arrested, freed
However, it was gathered yesterday that the leader of the sect, Mohammed Yusuf, was earlier arrested by security agencies in 2008 and taken to court for prosecution but an Abuja High Court set him free.
This fact came to light at a joint press briefing by the DHQ, the Police and the SSS even as it emerged that security agencies had been aware of his groupâ€™s existence sine 1995 and had made all the intelligence reports on Yusufâ€™s activities available to the appropriate quarters without any action taken.
After his group attacked a Police station in Maiduguri in 2008 during which 17 members of his sect were killed in the encounter, Yusuf was arrested on 13th November, 2008. On the 18th November, he was handed over to the Police for prosecution.
However, the Abuja High Court Judge in his wisdom decided there was no need to detain him and subsequently let him go.
Married to four wives with 12 children, Mohamed Yusuf who was born on the 29th of January, 1970, hails from Girgir village in Jalasko Local Government Area of Yobe state.
Explaining that security agencies did not fail in their duties against the backdrop that the group survived till 2009 when they unleashed their terror, the Assistant Director, Public Relations of SSS, Marilyn Ogar said â€œintelligence was collected on his activities and passed to the appropriate quartersâ€.
Earlier, Director of Defence Information, Colonel Mohammed Yerima, explained how the crisis snowballed into the present ugly situation saying, â€œa certain group of Islamic fundamentalists, led by one Mohammed Yusuf had in the recent past been engaging in some suspicious activities with security implications. The group Boko Haram is rabidly opposed to all forms of western education and civilization.
â€œThey consider as their primary target for attacks, law enforcement agents, critical public infrastructure and centres of worship which in their view are opposed to their doctrines. It has been ascertained that the group did not emerge just of recent.
They have been in existence as far back as 1995 under different names such as Ahlulsunna walâ€™jamaâ€™ah hijra.
â€œSecurity agencies have over this period been monitoring and containing their activities even when they transmuted to other names but with the same doctrine of intolerance.
For instance, on the 13th November, 2008, the groupâ€™s leader, Mohammed Yusuf and quite a number of his followers were arrested by security operatives and were handed over to the Inspector-General of Police for prosecution.
â€œHowever, they were subsequently granted bail by an Abuja high court on the 20th January 2009. Before then in 2007, one of his ardent disciples, Al-Amin who was also the Kano state leader of the group was arrested along with some of their members after an attack on a police station in Kano. He was also handed over to the police for prosecution. Similarly, between February and April 2009, Yusufâ€™s second-in-command named Likakam, a Nigerien, was on two occasions arrested and repatriated to his country.
18 suspected Boko Haram members nabbed in Jos
In Jos, Plateau State, the police have arrested 18 people suspected to be linked to the Boko Haram sect. One of them, Shamsudeen Salisu Nakofa, was arrested with a large quantity of yet-to-be-sewn army camouflage and other things which he claimed he was taking to Bauchi to supply to members of the fundamentalist group.
Another suspect said to be the supplier of the bales of camouflage materials was also paraded.
Parading the suspects to newsmen yesterday, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Gregory Anyanting, said 16 others mostly youths from Katsina state including a Ghanaian and a Nigerien were arrested in a house in Jos and were being investigated to ascertain if they had any link with the sect.
He said the arrests followed security surveillance following the outbreak of violence in Bauchi and other states assuring that the police would do all it can to maintain peace in the state.
Answering questions from newsmen, Nakofa who denied being a member of Boko Haram said he was requested to supply the materials by members of the sect in Bauchi.
Members sell off property in Mubi, desert mosque
Meanwhile, members of the sect in Mubi town in Adamawa State have deserted their only mosque situated at the Shagari Low Cost area.
The mosque was shut yesterday while the members, who had abandoned the place before the arrival of the police, were said to have fled to Maiduguri.
â€œMany of them said they were going to Maiduguri to meet their leader, Mohammed Yusuf. A lot of them have sold off their property before leavingâ€, a neighbour of one of the sect members who preferred anonymity, said.
The Mubi Police Area Commander, Mr Adeyinka Bashir, an ACP, said the police were aware that some people were selling off their property before the outbreak of the hostility.