UNKNOWN to many, the suspected architect of the Christmas Day church bombing was in Lagos before his January 14 arrest and eventual escape. He was rearrested on February 10.
Kabiru Umar (alias Kabiru Sokoto), whose escape expedited former police chief Hafiz Ringim’s retirement, was seen on Snake Island, home of the ship repair company, Nigerdock, in Apapa, Lagos, according to a Senate Committee report.
The report of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs said: “Police intelligence revealed that prior to his arrest on 14th January, 2011, Kabiru Umar (alias Kabiru Sokoto) had been on the check list of Boko Haram sect members.
“Sokoto was reported to have been noticed within the vicinity of Snake Island, Lagos and left Lagos sometime on 13th December, 2011 and disappeared from surveillance monitoring, until 11th January, 2012. He was later traced to Abaji in the Federal Capital Territory.
“Police detectives traced him from Abaji to Abuja on the same date and further traced him to Asokoro-Abuja where he was finally apprehended at about 0240 hours (2.40am) on the 14th of January, 2012 at the Borno State Governor’s Lodge at Iro Dan Musa Street, Asokoro, Abuja.”
Senators yesterday gave a blow-by-blow account of how Umar escaped from police custody. Besides, they named his accomplices.
Umar dramatically escaped from police custody less than 24 hours after his arrest while being taken to his home in Abaji, a suburb of Abuja, for a search.
The Senate empanelled its Committee on Police Affairs to probe his escape.
The committee’s chairman, Senator Paulinus Nwagu, who presented the report, gave graphic details of how Umar disappeared.
His accomplices include the son of a traditional ruler, the Onah of Abaji in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and a man who was shot dead as he attempted to snatch a rifle from a policeman.
The report said:
“The mob action that effected the escape of the suspect was spearheaded by the under listed persons: Adamu Salihu (son of the Onah of Abaji land), Abdullahi Sidi, alias Bamanga (at large), Abdullahi Sahabi (at large), Jibrin Aliyu, alias Kaska and Ashafa Central (Inuwa) who was shot dead as he attempted to snatch a rifle from the police during the mob action.
“Further investigation has revealed that after the mob action, the said Abdullahi Sahabi, Jibrin Aliyu, Abdullahi Sidi and Adamu Salihu all conspired and moved the principal suspect from Abaji to a village called Nuku, about 7kilometres from Abaji and handed him over to one Dauda Mohammed, who provided the suspect with shelter and feeding in an uncompleted house.
“One Alhaji Haruna Kaura, a resident of Nuku village, took over the suspect and transported him on a motorcycle to his farmland located some kilometres from Nuku village.”
The committee interracted with the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Minister of Police Affairs, the Chairman, Police Service Commission (PSC) and the Inspector General of Police.
The report went on: “The arrest was conducted by a combined team of police officers and men, comprising operatives from the Force Analytical Tracking and Intelligence Centre as well as Combat Teams from the Police Mobile Force, totalling 58 officers and men.
“The suspect was subsequently handed over to the Commissioner of Police, Zakari Biu, who was in charge of handling terrorist cases, in charge of suspects and general follow-up, for further investigation.”
The report added: “Investigation activities of the police led detectives, comprising five officers to visit the residence of the suspect in Abaji to conduct a search on the 15th January, 2012.
“On arrival at the residence of the suspect at Bulletin Quarters, Abaji, the team met one Adamu Salihu, the son of the Onah of Abaji, the traditional ruler of Abaji in the FCT who was a neighbour of the suspect.
“The said Adamu Salihu, who was later discovered to be a close associate of Kabiru Sokoto as well as a suspected member of Boko Haram, suddenly went into his room, came out with a copy of the Holy Quran, cited Quranic quotes and with a loud shout of ‘Allahu-Akhbar (God is great)’, mobilised nearby youths who attacked the police with hard objects and forcibly took over the suspect whom they whisked away to an undisclosed location.
“Immediate efforts to recover the suspect indicated that the duo of one Jibrin Aliyu, alias Kaska and one Abdullahi Sidi, alias Bamanga, had informed one Mohammed Gambo that the principal suspect was with Jibrin Aliyu.
“The same Mohammed Gambo instantly requested Jibrin Aliyu to produce the suspect at the palace of the Onah of Abaji and thereafter informed the Onah of Abaji, who requested his police escort and the army personnel on stop-and-search duty on Abaji-Lokoja expressway to re-arrest and bring the suspect (Kabiru Sokoto) to his palace, but they could not find him.
“The security team then arrested Jibrin Aliyu and he is currently undergoing interrogation.
“Consequently, a team of police detectives travelled to Nuku village and the farmland in Gwaragwada, Yawti, in search of the suspect to no avail. The team, acting on information, also moved to a village called Achabo in Kogi State and to Toto, Gadabuike, Lokorgoma and Nasarawa Toto in Nasarawa State in search of the fleeing principal suspect.
“All those who aided and abetted his escape, apart from those at large, have been arrested and are assisting the police in its investigations.
“Commissioner of Police Zakari Biu has been suspended from the service of the Nigeria Police Force and he is under further investigation over his handling of the suspect.
“Commissioner of Police Zakari Biu in the year 2000 disappeared from the Police Service and alleged that the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, said he did not want him in the Force. He later re-appeared again after about 10 years.
“When the committee probed further, the Chairman, Police Service Commission, told the committee that he recalled Commissioner of Police Zakari Biu because he was never suspended or queried by the Nigeria Police Force.
“That Zakari Biu was officially suspended by the Commission based on the fact that the Inspector General of Police reported the case of escaped suspect in his custody to allow full investigation.”
Of the seven recommendations by the committee, the Senate adopted two – that
*the public should give security agencies information; and that
*Biu and others involved in the escape of Kabiru Sokoto should have their prosecution expedited to serve as a deterrent to other security operatives.
The lawmakers rejected the recommendation that the Office of the Co-ordinator on Counter Terrorism established in the National Security Advisers’ Office be strengthened through a legislative act.
It also rejected the recommendation for the establishment of a joint border patrol to include Police, Armed Forces, Immigration Service, Customs Service, State Security Service and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps to check the challenges of the country’s porous borders.
The recommendation that existing laws on terrorism should be strengthened such that offences under the Act should be made public was also rejected. Besides, the Senate disagreed that there should be special courts for terrorism cases.
The Upper Chamber also rejected the recommendation that the government should ensure special training for judges and prosecutors to handle terrorism offences.
The lawmakers almost dropped the report of the committee on the excuse that security agencies should be allowed to conclude their investigation.
But Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, insisted that some areas of the report should be considered.
Sings that the report might suffer a setback emerged early when no Senator wanted to second the motion for its consideration, until Ekweremadu virtually forced Senator Dahiru Kuta to do so.