By Emma Ujah, Ben Agande, Caleb Ayansina & Ndahi Marama
ABUJA—Almost three months after Boko Haram terrorists abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, the military announced, yesterday, that it has arrested one of the sect’s leaders, who was one of the abductors.
This came on a day the sect members bombed a Divisional Police Headquarters in Shani Local Government Area of Borno State and also attacked an emir’s palace.
The alleged abductor of the Chibok girls, whose name was given as Babuji Ya’ari, was also said to have led the attack in which the Emir of Gwoza, Alh. Idriss Timta, was killed a few weeks ago.
The Director of Defence Information, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, disclosed in a statement issued in Abuja, yesterday, that Ya’ari doubled as member of the Youth Vigilante Group, popularly known as Civilian JTF.
According to the Defence spokesman, the Boko Haram kingpin used his membership of the civilian JTF only as a cover, as he has been coordinating deadly attacks in Borno State since 2011.
He added that the arrest of Ya’ari led to the arrest of several other Boko Haram intelligence cell members. Olukolade said that those arrested had confessed their involvement with the deadly sect and named several others who were being trailed.
The full text reads: “A terrorists’ intelligence cell headed by a businessman, who participated actively in the abduction of School Girls in Chibok has been busted by troops. The man, Babuji Ya’ari, who is also a member of the Youth Vigilante Group popularly known as Civilian JTF which he uses as cover while remaining an active terrorist, also spearheaded the murder of the Emir of Gwoza. His main role in the group is to spy and gather information for the terrorist group.
“Babuji has been coordinating several deadly attacks in Maiduguri since 2011, including the daring attacks on Customs and military locations as well as the planting of IEDs in several locations in the town.
“The arrest of the businessman, who is known to deal in tricycles has also yielded some vital information and facilitated the arrest of other members of the terrorists’ intelligence cell who are women. One of them, Hafsat Bako had earlier escaped to Gombe State to avoid suspicion but was tracked and arrested. Prior to her arrest, Hafsat coordinated the payment of other operatives on the payroll of the group. In her confession, she disclosed that a minimum of N10,000 is paid to each operative depending on the enormity of his task.
“Another female suspect named Haj Kaka, who doubles as an armourer and a spy for the terrorist group has also been arrested. Until their arrest, all the suspects actively operated a terrorists’ intelligence cell in collaboration with others still at large.
“In another development, troops deployed in Goniri, Yobe State, over the weekend, had an encounter with terrorists, resulting in casualties on both sides after the attack was successfully repelled”.
Boko Haram bomb police headquarters, attack Emir’s palace, burn houses, shops
Meanwhile, barely 24 hours after the terrorists attacked Cbibok communities in Borno State killing no fewer than 51 persons, the sect members, yesterday, invaded Shani Local Government Area of the state and bombed the Divisional Police Headquarters.
Shani is south and about 245 kilometres drive to Maiduguri which also shares boundary with some parts of Adamawa State.
The insurgents also attacked the palace of the newly appointed Emir of Shani, Alhaji Sanusi Mailafiya. The sect members were said to be hunting for the Chairman of the council, Alhaji Madu Walama, whom they believed was hiding inside the palace.
According to the residents of the community, after the heavily armed terrorists attacked the police headquarters with an Improvised Explosive Device at about 2.45pm, yesterday, they proceeded to the town and started shooting indiscriminately at people. They also set houses, shops and vehicles on fire. Many of the residents were feared dead, although casualty figure could not be ascertained.
After attacking the Emir’s palace, the terrorists were also reported to have looted a pharmaceutical store in Witambaya village before escaping into the hills of Pelambirni village bordering some communities in Adamawa State.
Another set of gunmen also reportedly attacked Mandaragirau village in Biu Local Government Area and went away with 60 cows.
A resident told Vanguard on phone that the gunmen came at about 10:00pm on Sunday and started shooting sporadically for some hours before they carted away 60 cows. No life was however lost.
Efforts to reach the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) DSP Gideon Jibrin for confirmation did not yield any result, as his phone was switched off.
Jonathan condemns attack on Chibok
Meantime, President Goodluck Jonathan has called on all lovers of peace in the country to condemn efforts by agents of global terrorism to disunite and destabilize Nigeria by callously instigating violence among religious groups in the country.
Reacting to the attack on some churches in Chibok where scores of worshipers were killed, President Jonathan said he shares the view of the most learned Islamic leaders and scholars that no true Muslim will resort to the mindless killing of innocent people at any time, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, to redress any perceived grievance.
“The President deplores the renewed targeting by Boko Haram of adherents of a particular religion and urges all lovers of peace and unity to wholly condemn the renewed violence by the Boko Haram insurgents.
A statement by Reuben Abati, the Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity said: “The President believes, therefore, that Sunday’s attacks on churches and other similar atrocities by Boko Haram are conclusive proof, if any is still needed, that its leaders and members are thoroughly misguided persons who are only using religion as a cover for their reprehensible crimes against their countrymen and women.
“President Jonathan urges all Nigerians, irrespective of their religious beliefs, to resist this new attempt to undermine the nation’s firm and collective resolve to unite in full support of its armed forces and security agencies against the vicious perpetrators of brutal attacks on innocent citizens.
“The President assures all Nigerians once again that the Federal Government and national security agencies will continue to intensify ongoing efforts to end Boko Haram’s senseless attacks until the terrorists are routed and totally defeated.
“He commiserates with the families and churches that lost loved ones, members and places of worship during Sunday’s attacks” the statement concluded.
Chibok abduction won’t hinder fight against terrorism – FG
The Federal Government has also restated that it would not be deterred by the abduction of more than 200 school girls in Chibok, Borno State to fight the insurgents.
The National Coordinator of National Information Centre, Mr Mike Omeri stated this, yesterday, at the routine security briefing, alongside with spokespersons of security forces, in Abuja.
Fielding questions from journalists on why killings continue in spite of the deployment of security operatives by the government, Omeri said government was not demoralised and would not be, despite challenges it is facing to rescue the girls.
He said: “The President, security agencies, even all of us sitting here said in relation Chibok girls: The focus is to rescue them alive not attracting collateral damage or destroying the lives of those children. And therefore, the approach at rescue is different.
“Now, the Air Force even as at yesterday (Sunday) came out to fight the insurgents, where they make themselves available to be confronted. You can confirm that from Chibok and even the other week as well.
“As I said earlier, there are rules of engagement in the war, a conventional professional armed forces will stick to it, but an unconventional group or team of criminals will not stick to it.
“And don’t forget that this government have zero tolerance for abuses whether by armed forces, police or whosoever. So, we will stick to the rule of engagement and do the right thing,” he said.
Speaking on the attack in Kautikeri, kwada and Birnjuzu about 10 kilometres from Chibok, Borno state, Omeri said government had intensified patrol in the area.
He maintained that government and the community leaders were working to ascertain the extent of damage and figures, noting that there were causalities from both the security forces and the insurgents.