SECURITY agents last night arrested a Senator who a suspect named as a Boko Haram sponsor.
Senator Ali Ndume (Borno), who is being held by the State Security Services (SSS), is likely to face trial today in Abuja.
The Nation learnt also that 13 suspects have been arrested by the Joint Task Force in connection with the recent bombings in Damaturu, Yobe State.
Ndume will be arraigned in court with some members of the sect already in SSS custody, sources said.
A source, who pleaded not to be named for security reasons, broke to The Nation news of the senator’s arrest at about 10.20pm.
He said: “He is presently being detained in SSS custody, pending his arraignment in court.
“Based on the confession of some Boko Haram suspects in custody, we have interrogated Ndume and he has made a statement accordingly. We are going to charge him to court on Tuesday (today) with some of the suspects in our custody.
“With this development, we hope that Nigerians will appreciate that security agencies are doing our best to tackle terrorism.”
Attempts by some Senators to see Ndume last night failed.
A suspect named Ndume, former Borno State Governor Ali Modu Sheriff and Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Sao Tome and Principe, the late Saidu Pindar, as financial backers of Boko Haram.
The suspect, Ali Sauda Umar Konduga (a.k.a Usman al-Zawahiri) spoke at the State Security Service (SSS) office in Abuja during a session with reporters in the presence of SSS officials.
It was a repetition of the confessional statement he allegedly made to the SSS.
Besides its activities in the Northeast, which have caused hundreds of deaths, the group extended its operations to Abuja when its suicide bomber attacked the police headquarters.
The group also killed more than 60 people during its co-ordinated strikes in Damaturu and Potiskum in Yobe State and Maiduguri, Borno State, early this month.
Boko Haram took its operations to the international arena by attacking the United Nations (UN) building in Abuja in August, killing 24 people.
Konduga said he was trained by the late Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, who was summarily executed in police custody in 2009.
Konduga confessed to being a member of “ECOMOG”, political outfit allegedly sponsored by Sheriff.
According to him, the relationship between the sect and the ex-governor flourished when Sheriff appointed one of Boko Haram’s leaders, Fuji Foi, as commissioner. But the relationship went sour after Foi was sacked and eventually killed in circumstances the sect believed were officially instigated.
The suspect, who spoke through an interpreter, said it was at this point that the late Pindar stepped in as a major backer of the sect. According to him, Pindar promised the sect N10 million and was on his way to deliver N5 million to the sect when he was killed in a road crash about two months ago.
Konduga said: “Senator Ali Ndume filled the vacuum left by Pindar. He composed threat text messages that we forwarded to prominent individuals, including Governor Sule Lamido (Jigawa State), Babangida Aliyu (Niger State), Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dalhatu Tafida and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.”
“Before his death, Pindar encouraged us to send threat messages to the chairman of the Borno State Election Petition Tribunal, Justice Sambo Adamu, and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke.”
The Borno Election Petition Tribunal was forced to relocate from Maiduguri to Abuja by the frightening contents of the text messages.
According to the suspect, the relationship between the sect and Ndume grew tepid when the senator was named as a member of the Galtimari Committee on Security in the Northeast.
“We questioned Ndume’s membership of the committee, but he explained to us that he had no link with ex-Governor Sheriff and that he would supply us the telephone numbers of members of the Galtimari committee. He could not fulfil the promise before I was arrested.”
The Galtimari committee has submitted its report which President Goodluck Jonathan promised to implement, saying: “perpetrators would be dealt with and that the heavens would not fall”.
Giving reasons for sending threat messages to the prominent individuals, Konduga said Ndume told them that Obasanjo was a strong backer of Sheriff and the message was meant to get the ex-President to withdraw his support for him.
The message to the tribunal chairman was to threaten him to rule in favour of the PDP in the Borno State governorship election petition. The election was won by the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
The message to the Attorney General was to make him prevail on the tribunal to rule in favour of the PDP. The message to Governors Lamido and Aliyu was to check their relentless verbal attacks on the sect.
One of the threat messages was also sent to former Senator and ex-Works Minister Sanusi Daggash. According to the suspect, Ndume told the sect that Daggash was working against the interest of the PDP in Borno State.
According to Konduga, all the messages were scripted by Ndume and forwarded to him for onward transmission to the various individuals. He also provided the telephone numbers of the individuals.
The suspect expressed the sect’s dissatisfaction with the various political figures they had contact with because, according to him, they always failed to keep their promises when the sect members needed them most.
SSS spokesperson Marilyn Ogar who addressed the press conference where the suspect was paraded before reporters, said the revelation had confirmed the position of the SSS that Boko Haram members enjoy political patronage and sponsorship.
She said the suspect was arrested on November 3 by a joint security operation at Gwange, Maiduguri. According to Ogar, Konduga claimed to be one of the spokesmen of the sect.
The SSS spokesperson said the suspect confessed that following the compulsory registration of SIM cards, he was asked to steal a SIM which he used in sending the threat messages.
Ogar revealed that the suspect had been using a pseudo name, Usman Al-Zawahiri, to conceal his identity. She confirmed that analysis of the suspect’s phone confirmed constant communication between him and the legislator (preferring not to mention his name).
She said: “Meanwhile, analysis of Al-Zawahiri’s phone has confirmed constant communication between him and the legislator”.
The SSS reiterated its commitment to addressing the security threat posed by Boko Haram and other fundamentalist groups, including the dimensions of political patronage and sponsorship of extremist and violent groups.
Ndume was the Minority Leader of the sixth House of Representatives. He was elected on the platform of the ANPP. He defected to the PDP shortly before the April elections, apparently having fallen out with ex- Governor Sheriff who is in absolute control of the ANPP in Borno State.
Source: The Nation.