Written by Michael Sanni Tuesday, 01 July 2014 02:14
The Special Forces have arrested a top intelligence operative of the Boko Haram sect. The suspect is believed to have spearheaded the abduction of the female students of Government Secondary, Chibok, on April 14, 2014. A statement by the Director of Defence Information, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, named the Boko Haram operative as Babuji Ya’ari, said to be a businessman and leader of a youth vigilance group, popularly known as the Civilian JTF.
Olukolade said Ya’ari also spearheaded the murder of the Emir of Gwoza, Idrissa Timta, who was killed by insurgents at Tesan Alade, along the Biu-Garkida Road on May 30, 2014.
He said that Ya’ari used his membership of the Civilian JTF to gather information to aid the activities of the insurgents.
He said that the arrested Boko Haram spy chief was responsible for the coordination of several devastating attacks on military formations and the detonation of several bombs in Maiduguri since 2011.
The statement read, “A terrorists’ intelligence cell headed by a businessman who participated actively in the abduction of schoolgirls 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.”
Olukolade said that the businessman gave the information that led to the arrest of the female members of the cell, including one Hafsat Bako, who was said to have escaped to Gombe State to avoid being arrested but was tracked down by security agents.
The Defence Spokesman said that the female Boko Haram member confessed to the coordination of payment for insurgents on the payroll of Boko Haram.
According to him, Bako confessed that a minimum of N10,000 was paid to each of the operatives, depending on the weight of the task assigned to them.
Olukolade also said that the Special Forces were holding another female member of the sect, Haj Kaka, said to be an armourer and a spy for the group.
He said that the arrested terror suspect actively operated a terrorists’ intelligence cell in collaboration with others still at large.
The Defence Spokesman added that the Special Forces had an encounter with some insurgents at Goniri, Yobe State, and repelled them.
Although Olukolade did not give details of casualties, he said that the attack resulted in casualties on both sides.
Meanwhile, the death toll in the Sunday attacks on communities near Chibok, Borno State, rose on Monday to 53.
Suspected Boko Haram members had invaded Kwada, Katagau and Kautikari villages, all in the Chibok Local Government Area early on Sunday, setting churches ablaze and gunning down worshippers.
Forty-eight people were confirmed dead on Sunday night but reports from Chibok on Monday indicated that the death toll had risen to 53 with some of the injured victims losing the battle to stay alive.
Insurgents on April 14 had abducted well over 200 female pupils of the Government Secondary School in Chibok.
Two weeks ago, the insurgents wrote to the council officials and promised to launch another offensive on the community.
It was also learnt on Monday that residents of the affected communities were fleeing from their homes in droves because they were afraid that the terrorists would come back.
“Residents are fleeing from neighbouring villages into Chibok Local Government secretariat for fear of further attacks from the insurgents,” Ishaya Ibrahim, a resident of one of the affected villages near Chibok, said.
Ibrahim said residents of about 10 villages had decided to flee from their homes following the attacks on Kwada, Katagau and Kautikari.
“I and the others fled to Chibok when we heard rumours that they would come back and we don’t know the next point of attack. Everybody is running to Chibok now. There is even no more space for people to stay inside the local government secretariat; people are now sleeping on mats under trees with their little children,” he said.
Ibrahim, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the telephone, claimed that the gunmen wore army uniforms when they attacked a church in Kwada.
He said, “They brought out all the men inside the church and started shooting them, while they chased after anyone that tried to run away with a motorcycle. They also opened fire on everybody in the town as they were running away.
“As of yesterday (Sunday), they killed 31 people inside a church and killed others outside. In the evening, we found other dead bodies inside the bush. On Sunday, the soldiers refused to go to the scene of the attack until after the insurgents had left the place. There is no security presence in Chibok.”
Another indigene claimed that although the military deployed men in five Hilux trucks after they were notified of the attack, they were not able to stop the killings.
He said, “This is the most annoying thing. Two kilometres from where the attack was going on, the military just parked their vehicles under a tree and stayed there after they heard the insurgents’ shooting. And when the fighter jet came, the insurgents moved into people’s houses and stayed there. The jet hovered over them for some time and didn’t see any movement. But instead of the security agents to take advantage of that time and move in, and start rescuing people, they didn’t and later turned back.
“So, we wonder what the Nigerian Army is doing in Chibok. If our people call for us to arm ourselves, they would say that we are criminals. Had it been a few members of our vigilante groups were armed with AK-47 rifles, we believe they might have done something better on Sunday in trying to save some people’s lives.”
Curiously, the Coordinator, National Information Centre, Mike Omeri, said that the Federal Government was not aware of the threat by Boko Haram that it would attack communities around Chibok.
Omeri, who said this on Monday while responding to questions on the preventive measures taken by security operatives against the attacks on Kautikari, Kwada and Karagau villages, denied knowledge of the threat by the violent sect to attack the communities.
He said, “We are not aware of Boko Haram threat letter to the communities. Boko Haram came to the villages, but the security agencies mobilised during the attack and repelled them and also killed a number of the insurgents.
“The insurgents are showing a lot of desperation, which means that they are nearing their end.”
Omeri denied that the push against terrorism was being sabotaged. He said nobody was toying with the campaign to contain the insurgents.
He stressed that the security forces had all the necessary arms and ammunition as well as equipment and resources they needed to combat the Boko Haram insurgency.
“Nobody is toying with the campaign against terrorism; all the systems have a way of checking themselves,” he added.
Omeri had during a press briefing by NIS on June 18 said the armed forces and security services were not only acting on letters but all possible leads and information available to them.
He had said, “They are acting to ensure that all of us, whether in Chibok or outside Chibok, are safe. The same intensity of alertness, the same intensity of operation is also established around the area to ensure that the threat is thwarted if ever it exists.”