By Kingsley Omonobi, with agency reports
KANO â€” THE Nigerian army insisted yesterday that it handed over Islamist sect leader, Mohammed Yusuf, alive to the police last week before he was killed under controversial circumstances.
Colonel Ben Ahonotu, commander of the operation that led to Yusufâ€™s capture in the northeastern city of Maiduguri last Thursday, said the sect leader was interrogated by a senior military officer before the handover.
â€œI personally arrested Yusuf and handed him over to the police after a short questioning the same day, only to be told that he died in a shootout,â€ Ahonotu told AFP.
â€œA senior military officer conducted the interrogation of Mohammed Yusuf,â€ he said without disclosing the identity of the army officer.
Police have denied that the Boko Haram sect leader was killed while in their custody, saying he died in a crossfire with security forces while trying to escape.
Yusuf, 39, was killed after security forces crushed an uprising last week by the self-styled Taliban fundamentalist group in several northern states.
The violence left more than 300 people dead, the majority of them sect members.
President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua said Tuesday he had ordered an investigation into the uprising and the controversial killing of Yusuf, 39.
â€œThis is an incident that will be investigated together with the overall events that have happened,â€ he said in response to reportersâ€™ questions about his reaction to Yusufâ€™s killing.
However, when contacted yesterday, the Police authorities said it would respond to Col Ahonotu’s comments. A very senior police officer who doesn’t want his name in print told Vanguard “We will not respond to the Army’s comments. The President has already set up a panel to unravel the case, we will make our submissions to the panel.”