THE deaths of two alleged leaders of the Boko Haram crisis that rocked northern Nigeria last week is another sad reminder of the ease with which the security and safety of suspects can be eroded. Mohammed Yusuf, leader of Boko Haram and Alhaji Buji Foi, his alleged financier, died within hours of being captured alive.

Various versions of the story the police told fuel suspicions around their deaths. The police claimed Yusuf died “in action”, the story changed to he died from injuries sustained during the attack, later he was killed while trying to escape. What is certain is that the police paraded his bullet-riddled body to the media hours after the soldiers who captured him in his hideout handed him over to the police.

Col. Ben Ahanotu who led the operations confirmed Yusuf was delivered to the police alive. According to Col Ahanotu, Yusuf had a treated hand injury. Foi also allegedly died at the police station under equally inexplicable circumstances.

The police officer who spoke to the media about the deaths sounded triumphant, he appeared oblivious of the suspicions their deaths under the watch of the police create.

Condemnations have started trailing the deaths from within and abroad.

In an operation of the magnitude that Yusuf and his followers unleashed on Nigeria, it would have been important that the security agencies ensured he was alive to account for his action. Was someone trying to cover up something by seeing off Yusuf and his alleged sponsor? This issue is important in the light of the revelations that security agencies ignored warning from local clerics and other residents of Maiduguri about the dangers Boko Harm posed.

Yusuf was well known. People had expressed fears that his fiery preaching could lead to violence. Security agencies had grilled him and he had been under their watch for more than six years. Why did things still go wrong?

The Director General of the State Security Services, SSS, Mr. Afakriya Gadzama reportedly told the Senate on July 21 about the security situation in the North East. During the Boko Haram riots, Afakriya lamented that the authorities often ignored security reports.

All these are new issues the crisis in the North has raised, though the more important issue is a thorough investigation of how leaders of the uprising allegedly died in the care of the police.

Extrajudicial killings are becoming common. Complaints about them hardly get serious attention from the authorities, especially as the investigations are mostly about the police investigating their own conduct. The result is almost predictable.

We think that the authorities can change this attitude. The riots were underestimated from the beginning. This must have informed President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua departing for Brazil.

While other leaders cut short their foreign trips to attend to pressing domestic issues our President left Nigeria in flames for a foreign trip.

Nigerians deserve to be better treated.


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