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The Boko Haram sect vowed to fight on

The Boko Haram sect yesterday vowed to fight on, until their demands are met. The group rejected the recommendations of the Ambassador Usman Galtimari Panel, which prescribed dialogue to resolve the crisis in which many have died.

Boko Haram spokesman Abu Qaga told reporters on the telephone in Maiduguri yesterday that the panel acted on its own.

Qaqa said that the group was not satisfied with the members of the committee. It said those advising the government to involve the Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar and some emirs in the Northeast in the talks are doing so at their own peril. He said the group regards the Sultan as a government official.

Qaga reiterated the Boko Haram’s demands.

They are: severe punishment for those who killed its leader Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf and other members of the sect arrested during the July 2009 uprising; reconstruction of its places of worship destroyed by security agencies in Maiduguri and other states; immediate release of detained members; while appropriate compensation should be paid to them for all their belongings destroyed by security agencies.

The group disowned Mallam Ali Tishau saying he’s not its spokesman. Qaga said Tishau was initially not their member as he was sent by security agencies to investigate their activities, but converted to Islam and became a full member who later opted out and now out to tarnish its image.

Tishau’s disappearance from security custody has been causing ripples.

The co-founder of the Islamic fundamentalist sect, which has claimed responsibility for bombings across the North, including the August 26 United Nations House, Abuja disappeared from security custody in controversial circumstances.

He reappeared on Africa Independent Television (AIT), which broadcast his interview, last week.

Since then, there has been a frenzy over his whereabouts in security circles.

The Presidency has launched a probe into how Tishau was transferred between security agencies and how he was released.

Chief of Army Staff Gen. Azubike Ihejirika yesterday said Inspector-General of Police Hafiz Ringim and the Head of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) are in a better position to clear the air on Tishau’s exit from custody.

Gen. Ihejirika spoke at the opening ceremony of the 2011 edition of the Chief of Army Staff conference.

The Panel probing the release of Tishau is mandated to determine three issues:

•whether Tishau was released by the police or the DIA;

•under whose authority he was released; and

•whether his release was on administrative bail or by the order of a court

The National Security Adviser (NSA) is leading the probe into Tishau’s escape.

“A committee comprising representatives of security agencies and the police is looking into the matter,” a source said.

Neither the Police nor the DIA has accepted responsibility for Tishau’s escape.

Said the source: “What is clear so far is that Tishau voluntarily surrendered to the police and he was detained for interrogation, until he was handed over to the DIA on July 7 by the IGP after a formal request.

“The DIA has also maintained that it returned Tishau to police custody. But the probe team would have to check the logs on the suspect’s movement.

“For a high-profile suspect like this, there are standard procedures for detention, interrogation and inter-agency movement.”

A new twist has emerged in the Tishau escape mystery. There is claim that he must have been released following a court order, but no such court order has been produced.


Boko Haram gets foreign backing

Chief of Army Staff Gen. Azubike Ihejirika yesterday said members of the Boko Haram terrorist group were receiving training, funding and equipment from foreign interests.

Gen. Ihejirika hinged his position on the sophistication of the weapons being used by the sect’s members, the communication equipment deployed in recent bombings and their expertise in the preparation of improvised explosive devices.

“Involvement of foreigners in Boko Haram’s terrorist activities in Nigeria is certain. It is definite that the group receives training and possibly funding from some foreign elements,” he said, at the opening of the 2011 Chief of Army Staff conference in Abuja:

He added: “This is evident from the type of weapons we have captured from them, from the type of communication equipment we have captured from them and from the expertise they have displayed in the preparation of improvised explosive devices. These are pointers to the fact that there is foreign involvement in the terrorism going on in Nigeria.”

Highlighting the main focus of the two-day conference, Gen. Ihejirika admitted the security challenges confronting the nation, assuring all that the Army is appraising its operational training to meet emerging security challenges.

“This quarter has been particularly challenging, in view of the numerous security challenges across the country, the most recent being the UN House bombing by the terrorists here in Abuja.

“This is essentially a training conference and hence a large number of officers taking part. We have been told to appraise our performance training, administration and in tackling the operational challenges the Nigerian Army has been involved in both internally and externally”

“I want to emphasise that we have to be very frank and do a serious critique of our performances so that we can come out with a solution that will aid our performances in future undertakings,” he said.

The Army chief acknowledged the high expectation of the public from the security agencies, saying that the consensus among them is that a situation where bombs continue to shatter public peace is unacceptable.

“So, we need to really dissect our mode of operation, and the way we work and cooperate with other agencies so as to come up with better strategies to enhance security tremendously,” the General said.

He deplored indiscipline among members of the Armed Forces and promised to tackle it with every seriousness required. He however added that indiscipline is a societal problem and not peculiar to members of the Armed Forces.

Said Gen. Ihejirika: “The issue of indiscipline affecting soldiers is societal, but what I want to assure every Nigerian is that all acts of indiscipline on the part of soldiers and officers would be dealt with immediately, whether by court-martial or at the unit level’.

“I have brought commanders to the field so that we will drum it right into their ears so that they too can interact with us and we will know how to nip the problem in the bud once and for all.

“What I want to say is that the Army will meet the expectations of Nigerians and that we are ever prepared to carry out any task assigned to us. The issue of the country’s security is a collective thing running from government at various levels, well-meaning citizens and all the security agencies. What I want to assure you is that the Army will cooperate and collaborate with others to improve on our present performance.”

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