ABUJA — CONTRARY to the image of invincibility woven around the Islamic terror group, Boko Haram in the media, the sect was not thoroughly organised and may be routed by security agencies with another major arrest, a reliable top source within the security apparatus in Abuja, disclosed yesterday.
According to the source, Boko Haram was no longer as powerful as it used to be, before the arrest of its spokesman, Abu Qaqa and one of its foot soldiers, Kabiru Sokoto, whose arrest had led operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) to the arrest of several other members of the group who were in their planning council.
Revealing that from the statements and intelligence gathered from the arrested members, the SSS was close to routing the group completely out of Nigeria, the source said: “We are on the winning side. We are very close to wiping them out completely as most of their top planners are already in our custody.
“It is however lamentable that much of the information being published on this group concerning their revelations were not correct. This group is not as organized as it is being portrayed in the press.
I must tell you that if it were a very organized group, someone like Kabiru, would not be in Nigeria after he had escaped from the Police the first time. These boys who are being used for the attacks were only errand boys who were getting only feeding money. Kabiru was selling recharge card and even when he was re-arrested he had nothing significant. He was only bathed and dressed up by the Service in order to present him to the Press. Certainly we are almost through with them. With just one more arrest, Boko Haram will cease to exist.”
This disclosure came as fresh bomb blast rocked Suleja and the Police in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, beefed up security in the city with new motorized electronic detecting equipment deployed to places like Aso Rock Villa, Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport and the entry point between FCT and Niger State.
Meanwhile, Pastor Isua Kiforo, a director with Kaduna State Ministry of Information, who was shot several times on his legs and lower abdomen last Monday at Kaduna State Government House, died yesterday at the 44 Army Referral Hospital, Kaduna after battling for life for six days. His wife, Mrs Charity Kiforo, confirmed his death to Vanguard on phone.
Suleja: How scores escaped death in church
But for the alertness of security personnel attached to Christ Embassy Church located at 82 Morocco Road, Suleja, another massacre similar to that which happened on December 25, 2011 at nearby Madalla, Niger State, would have occurred yesterday.
Matthew Musa, a worshiper, who was in the church when the bomb exploded at about 10 am said: “One of our members, who had parked his car outside the church premises had suddenly remembered something he forgot in the booth of his car. When the man went to pick what he forgot from the booth of his car, he noticed that a strange sack which looked like a Bagco super sack had been placed in front of his car. When he looked inside the bag, he noticed it contained a big tomato tin which had wires connected to it. He immediately alerted security men working in the church and the pastor.”
Musa stated that it was this man who immediately raised the alarm about the presence of what was suspected to be a bomb near the church.
According to him, the Pastor immediately got in touch with the Police, Army and other security agencies and they were rushing towards the area when the blast occurred. Before the blast, security men attached to the church had swung into action by preventing members of the church and other passers-by from getting close to the spot where the suspicious object was placed.
He said the story would have been different if the bomb had exploded after the church service when worshippers would be trooping out.
Miss Kelechi John, a member of Triumphant Ministries, another church which also holds its service within the same building, narrated her own experience. “The Pastor had just announced that it was time to pray. He had just said In Jesus name and the congregation replied Amen and the next thing we heard was the sound of a very loud explosion. We all began to run for our dear lives. It was the Pastor who came out last”.
It was learnt that although there were no casualties, several persons were wounded including a man whose abdomen was slashed open by the impact of the blast. The man was said to be a resident of another house located directly opposite the spot where the bomb exploded.
Another resident of the house said the injured man whose name was given as Chike was standing in front of the house when the explosion occurred. Another lady who also resides in the house said a lady was severely wounded on her neck.
The injured persons were said to have been rushed to Suleja General Hospital after which they were transferred to Gwagwalada General Hospital.
A resident of the building in which the two churches are located, who identified himself simply as Ekene said he saw the man who dropped the sack containing the explosives. “The man wore a white singlet and a knee-length jeans trouser,” he said.
The impact of the explosion was so powerful that it reduced two cars – between which the device was sandwiched- to heaps of scrap metal. Three other cars that were parked nearby had their windscreens shattered. The window panes and ceiling sheets of the affected buildings were all shattered.
Already a heavy security cordon has been thrown around the Suleja community with soldiers, policemen and operatives of the Nigerian Security with Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in-charge.
It would recalled that a suicide bomber attacked St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla- a stone throw from Suleija- on Christmas day last year and killed over 43 persons.
Four suspected terrorists arrested in Makurdi
Four suspected members of Boko Haram sect were, yesterday, arrested at the St.Theresa Catholic Church, at the High
level area of Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
Vanguard gathered from eyewitness that the four suspects had attempted to gain entry into the church while the second Mass was ongoing at 10.am when they were stopped by private security men on guard at the church.
The four men who were dressed in long ropes aroused suspicion when they could not respond appropriately to questions put to them by police men attached to the church.
Vanguard gathered from some members of the church and security man at the gate that the suspects claimed they came in from Kaduna State on a visit to a yet to be identified person in Makurdi.
Confirming the arrest, the state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Assistant Superintendent of Police Alaribe Ejike, said that the people were not members of Boko Haram.
Following claims that Benue state was on the invading list of the dreaded sect, the state government and religious leaders in the state have taken measures to beef up security in places of worship and some churches now have heavy presence of security agents manning their gates every Sunday.
How Pastor Kiforo died – Wife
Confirming Kiforo’s death, his wife Mrs Charity Kiforo, who declined extensive comments, mournfully said, “my husband died this morning after six days in the hospital.”
The Kaduna State Commissioner for Information, Alh. Saidu Adamu paid tribute to the man, saying, “I was informed about his death this afternoon, He was a nice, gentle and good person to work with. For the years we have worked together, I have found him a great staff to work with. I don’t understand what he did that led to his being shot. That would be left to the Police to explain”, he said.
Kaduna State Police Commissioner, Mallam Mohammed Bala Nasarawa, had six hours after the shooting of Kiforo, issued a statement saying the man had breached security at Kaduna Government House. He, however, said that no weapon or explosives were found on him or in the car he was driving.
Said Nasarawa: “At about 1328 hrs, a combined team of security personnel attached to Government House main gate, Kaduna intercepted a Toyota Corolla Saloon car, maroon in colour with Kaduna state Government official Reg.No Kaduna,KD-06-A 04.
“The driver drove dangerously in a suspicious manner towards the Government House gate. The security personnel stopped the lone occupant, but instead of stopping, he forced himself through the exit gate and found his way into the Government House.
“The security agencies thereafter, opened fire and shot the suspect on the leg and lower abdominal part of his body. The suspect was later identified as Pastor Isuwa Kiforo ‘M’ of No.7 Abba Rimi, Narayi Kaduna, who is the Director Finance and Administration, Ministry of Information, Kaduna State. He was rushed to 44 Army Reference Hospital Kaduna for treatment, after he was given first aid by a team of medical personnel attached to the government House. The vehicle was thoroughly searched in my presence by our Anti-Bomb disposal experts and nothing incriminating was recovered. In essence neither weapon nor explosives were found in it.”