THE State Security Service (SSS) has confirmed the arrest of a suspected member of the Boko Haram, the sect accused of using high calibre bombs and other weapons of mass destruction to terrorise residents of Borno and Gombe states in the north eastern part of the country and Abuja.
The security agency said that the suspect, Ali Sanda Umar Konduga, the spokesman of the sect, also known as Al-Zawahiri, was arrested three weeks ago by a joint security operation at Gwange area of Borno State
Parading the suspect at its headquarters in Abuja yesterday, the SSS Deputy Director of Public Relations, Marilyn Ogar, said that the agency, in the course of its investigations, established that some of the Boko Haram extremists allegedly enjoyed patronage from some high networth individuals, including members of the National Assembly.
Ogar, however, declined to mention the name of the lawmaker said to hail from Borno State. She also parried questions on whether the Service had begun move to invite the parliamentarian for interrogations.
Her words: "His (Al-Zawahiri) further confirms the Service position that some of the Boko Haram extremists have political patronage and sponsorship. This is more so as Al-Zawahiri has so far made valuable confessions in this regard."
The SSS spokeswoman said an analysis of Al- Zawahiri spokesman's phone has confirmed constant communication between him and the legislator.
According to her, the suspect was behind the threat text messages sent to Governor Sule Lamido, Governor Babangida Aliyu, Ambassador Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Justice Sabo Adamu (Chairman of the election petition tribunal in Borno State).
Other confessional statements made by the suspect, according to Ogar, were "that he was behind the threat text messages sent to the judges of the Election Petition Tribunal in Maiduguri. His objective was to ensure that the tribunal sacks the present government in Borno State.
"That most of the threat messages he sent to Justice Sabo Adamu were scripted and relayed to him by the National Assembly member.
"That the threat messages eventually led to the relocation of the election petition tribunal from Maiduguri to Abuja.
"That the same legislator promised to send him some telephone numbers of members of the Galtimari committee on security in the North-East, before he (Konduga) was apprehended.
"That the telephone number and content of the text message sent to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice were also given to him by the legislator in order to compel him (AGF) to influence the judgment of the tribunal against the government of Borno State.
"That one of his benefactors promised to pay him N10 million to work for his party but by stint of fate, he died on his way to deliver the part-payment of N5 million to Al-Zawahiri."
Ogar disclosed that consequent upon this, the suspect claimed that the political party stalwart and member of the National Assembly from Maiduguri took over the running of his activities.
"Thatthe pseudo name, Usman Al-Zawahiri, was given to him by the said politician to portray him as an extremist as well as conceal his true identity.
The suspect (Al-Zawahiri), while fielding questions from journalists at the SSS headquarters said though the group was not an affiliate of the PDP, it does not welcome the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) government in Borno State.
He said that the group will only welcome and jaw-jaw with other political parties, including the CPC, APGA and PDP in any reconciliatory move by the authorities.
He claimed to be the lone spokesman for Boko Haram at inception before the members were dislodged and scattered. But when they regrouped, three persons, Abu Kaka, Abu Zaid and Abu Dada, emerged as the legitimate members of the Boko Haram sect recognised to speak on behalf of the group.
He told journalists through an interpreter that he was placed on suspension by the sect on suspicion of divulging information on the activities of the sect to security agencies.
He was arrested on November 3, 2011 at about 8.30 p.m. at Gwange area of Maiduguri, Borno State in a joint security operation.
And an alleged deliberate failure by prominent political leaders from the North to condemn the terror being unleashed on Nigeria by Boko Haram has sent a signal to the Federal Government that it was an act of sabotage and an affront on national unity.
The Federal Government is said to be worried that since the outbreak of the violence by Boko Haram over a year now, there has not been a strong condemnation of the group, which is allegedly being used by a powerful political interest in the North to undermine the Dr. Goodluck Jonathan presidency and possibly bring it to its knees.
This conclusion was drawn at the end of a recent meeting of the top operatives of the nation's security agencies, where it was allegedly resolved that a former governor of Borno State (names withheld) should be investigated for allegedly "setting up a militant group as a political thuggery enterprise, and nurtured it through adequate funding until it metamorphosed into a terror group."
Also to be investigated in the fresh security directive areprominent politicians who have held high political offices in past but became attracted to the deadly group and chose to invest in it, "through sympathy and funds," ostensibly to assuage for the loss of political control by the North recently.
To this end, the report of the security meeting, which is billed to be submitted to President Jonathan for possible consideration and action, has advised him to initiate swift moves to engage key northern politicians politically or otherwise, as it was discovered that "Boko Haram is a political weapon in the hands of embittered political investors".
A top security source, who preferred anonymity, said "the meeting was taken aback to year 1999 when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo emerged as President, and some governors from the North were used to launch a political Sharia, which led to the gruesome murder of several hundreds of Nigerians, particularly southerners".
The source added that the "Sharia law code which was politically deployed by prominent but selfish northerners to recruit young Islamic adherents from the region, was successfully used to destabilise the early and better part of Obasanjo's first term in office, until it became clear that proponents of the Islamic law lacked the morale right to proclaim it as they were identified to be worst violators and offenders".
According to the source, who was present at the meeting, in his capacity as a head of one of the related agencies, said the meeting endorsed one of the reports at its disposal that Boko Haram became handy to some northern politicians as a replacement for the failed political Sharia to tackle the Jonathan's government and ultimately bring it to public and international ridicule".
The source continued: "The disgruntled political group from the North has chosen to fight every southerner-led presidency so as to make the North relevant to the rest of the country politically", insisting that "we were told that anytime a non-northerner emerged as the president of the country, Nigerians should be prepared to face one form of disruptive and destablising tendency or the other".
Speaking further on the planned investigation of the former governor of Borno State, the source hinted that there were concrete evidences that three state contractors during his time as helmsman have been providing lifeline for unidentified individuals and groups believed to be sympathisers of Boko Haram in the recent past.
"Our interest in this fact is the suspicion and allegations that the affected firms were acting on a script handed over to them by the former governor to assist the Boko Haram financiers. So, we want to find out the bond between the accused and the donees on one hand and the donor on the other hand, even when he has vacated office many years ago", the source said. .
In the meantime, no fewer than seven people were hacked to death on Sunday night by hoodlums in Razat village of Barkin-Ladi Local Council of Plateau State.
The attack, which took place at about 7.00 p.m., witnesses said it was carried out by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen, killing three men who were said to have been returning from Barkin-Ladi town.
The attackers, eyewitnesses added, created an illegal roadblock and laid an ambush on the villagers who were coming on two motorcycles, gunned them down and inflicted machete cuts on several parts of their bodies.
It was gathered that one of the victims who was on the motorcycle survived the attack but efforts to speak with him was not successful as members of the Special Task Force (STF) in charge of internal security in Jos were said to have picked him for further investigation.
The villagers identified the deceased persons to include Jacob Davou, aged 32, married with a child; Ezekiel Ishaku, aged 28, married with one child and Ishaya Bulus, aged 25.
Meanwhile, two Fulani men were said to have been arrested in connection with the attack by men of the Divisional Police headquarters, Barkin-Ladi.
Parading the suspects, a Police officer, Daspan Dariyem, said the suspects were arrested in the early hours of the day.
Reacting to the incident, Governor Jonah David Jang through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Pam Ayuba, who addressed journalists at the scene, said the governor received the news with shock following the efforts being put in place by government at all levels for lasting peace in the state.
Meanwhile, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has said that the provision of adequate security for lives and property was a key factor that would spur economic growth and development of the country.
Speaking against the backdrop of rising wave of insecurity in the country, he contended that it was counter-productive to treat security as though it was disconnected from economic and political development, when in fact, they were inter-related.
Speaking at theFounder's Day celebration of the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola at the weekend, Abubakar said that for the country to enthrone a new regime of security, it must move quickly to address the socio-economic challenges facing it.
He listed the challenges to include high levels of unemployment and illiteracy as well as poor and unaccountable governance.