The Nigerian military has revealed how the suspected mastermind of the bombings in Jos and Zaria, both of which occurred in the two northern cities this week, was apprehended.
The Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, confirmed this in a statement yesterday, saying the terror kingpin was captured in Gombe State.
Usman said on Sunday July 5, suspected Boko Haram terrorists carried out coordinated bomb and gun attacks on worshippers at Ýan Taya Mosque, Dillimi Street, off Bauchi Road in Jos where the Ramadan tafsir prayer was holding and at Shagalinku restaurant along Bauchi Road also in Jos, Plateau State, leading to the death of over 48 persons, injuring several other persons and destruction of property.
He said the terrorists carried out another bomb attack on hapless workers undergoing a verification exercise at the Sabon Gari Local Government secretariat, Zaria, Kaduna State, resulting in the death of 25 people including a two-year-old child, several injuries and destruction of property.
Consequently, he revealed that a security cordon was established in the general areas especially along Bauchi, Gombe and the North-eastern part of the country by troops of 3 Division and the Special Task Force, as well as the Department of State Service (DSS).
“This culminated in the successful arrest of the mastermind of the heinous terrorist acts and two of his accomplices at a checkpoint in Dadin Kowa, Gombe State.
“The terrorist kingpin and his colleagues who hid in a trailer while trying to evade checks were fished out by troops of the Nigerian Army,” he disclosed.
According to Usman, the suspected terrorists were being processed for further action and would face the full wrath of the law.
He urged members of the public to be vigilant, security conscious and report any suspicious persons, movements, and facilities to the security agencies.
The statement by the army on the arrest of the suspected bomber, however, was preceded by the call by the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to use all the powers at his disposal to stop bombers working for the Boko Haram Sect.
Ki-moon, who was reacting to the multiple bomb attacks by Boko in recent weeks, said in a statement yesterday, that the terrorists were deliberately targeting Christian and Muslim worshipers, off which the latter are presently observing the holy month of Ramadan.
He urged Buhari to quickly root out the Boko Haram menace, and commended the countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin Republic for their steadfast efforts in the fight against Boko Haram.
He also extended his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, just as he renewed his call to support the operationalisation of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF).
Meanwhile the terror group, Boko Haram is offering to free more than 200 young girls kidnapped from a boarding school in the town of Chibok, Borno State last year in exchange for the release of militant leaders held by the federal government.
According to an activist Fred Eno, who said he had been negotiating with the sect for one year, Boko Haram’s current offer was limited to the Chibok schoolgirls.
“The new initiative reopens an offer made last year to the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan to release the 219 students in exchange for 16 Boko Haram detainees, the activist was quoted by the Associated Press (AP) as stating.
He said the five-week-old administration of Muhammadu Buhari offers “a clean slate” to bring the militants back to the negotiating table which was truncated by the different security agencies and their poor advice to Jonathan.
Presidential adviser Femi Adesina on Saturday had stated that the Buhari-led government “will not be averse” to talks with Boko Haram.
In a related development, Buhari yesterday described the failure of the Jonathan-led administration to act immediately after the Chibok girls were abducted as unfortunate.
He also said the Nigerian Army’s inability to defeat the Boko Haram insurgents in the country was a paradox and indicative of its dwindling prowess.
The president made the observations yesterday while meeting with the BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) group at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, noting that in spite of the successes recorded by the Nigerian Army in foreign missions, the country now has to rely on its neighbours to fight the insurgents.
Buhari pointed out that a situation where Nigeria was being rated alongside Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency was very unfortunate.
While responding to the request made by the BBOG movement led by a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, the president said: “It is paradoxical what the Nigerian military has achieved (so much) from Burma to Zaire to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Sudan.
“But Nigeria now has to be helped by Niger, Chad, and Cameroun. How are the mighty fallen. We will do our best to restore the respectability of our country and its institutions.”
The president also pointed out that the reluctance of the Jonathan administration to react to the abduction of the girls immediately it happened was unfortunate, and faulted the security agencies and other government functionaries for giving conflicting information.
This, he said, depicted the nation in a bad light locally and in the international arena.
“It’s unfortunate that the security agencies and federal government’s conflicting reports initially presented the government and its agencies in a very bad light both nationally and internationally because the law enforcement agencies and the government were conflicting each other sometimes within hours or weeks, that was not very impressive.
“The delayed and the late reaction by the former government and its agencies was very unfortunate,” he said.
While acknowledging the consistency of the BBOG group on its advocacy for the release of the abducted girls, Buhari assured them that his administration would take the group’s demands seriously.
He said his administration had reached out to the Nigeria’s neighbours and other countries including the G7 for cooperation to end terrorism in the country.
He said: “I think you will agree that the present government takes the issue very seriously. Within a week of being sworn in, I visited Niger, Chad and would have visited Cameroun but for the invitation of the G7.
“I’m very impressed with the leadership of this important group (G7) other than the United Nations itself, as they are very concerned about the security situation in Nigeria that led to abduction of the Chibok girls by the terrorists.
“When the terrorists announced their loyalty to ISIS, the whole attention again was brought squarely on Nigeria. And now we are rated with Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. This is very unfortunate.
“After Ramadan, I will visit Cameroun to see the president and then Benin Republic. But the efforts we have been making, some if we disclose publicly, will not be consistent with security but I assure you that under the Lake Chad Basin Commission, the military have met, the Ministers of Defence have met, we the presidents have met here in Abuja except the President of Cameroun who was represented by his Minister of Defence.
“Strategy and tactics have been drawn, a multinational taskforce has been put in place more or less with its headquarters in N’djamena and a Nigerian general as commander. And then the troops delegated by each of the countries are to be put in place by the end of the month.
“So I assure you that Nigeria will do its best and we are being helped by our neighbours.”
He assured the group that his administration was doing its best to secure the release of the kidnapped girls, just as he disclosed that his wish list to the G7 included a request for assistance to rebuild the infrastructure of the ravaged North-east.
The BBOG movement, in its demand tagged “ABC of Our Demand”, asked the government to spare no efforts in recovering the abducted girls and demanded an apology for the failure of governance that led to their abduction.
They also demanded an apology for the failure of governance that led to the failure to rescue the girls over 400 days after their abduction and demanded that a structured feedback and communication system between the Borno State Government, the parents of the abducted girls, and the community leaders be immediately set up.
They also urged the government to set up a commission of inquiry into the abduction and rescue of the girls, in addition to the establishment of a missing persons bureau.
In addition, the group advised the administration to consider the need for community/proximity policing, among other demands.
Other prominent officials at the event included Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki and other service chiefs.