The Nigeria Security Services are yet to confirm Wednesday’s reported arrest of the spokesman of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, allegedly arrested in an early morning raid on Monday in his residence.
Abu Qaqa, the sect member known for granting interviews and issuing statements on behalf of the group, was reportedly arrested in Kaduna by the State Security Service, early on Wednesday.
According to the AP, the Director of the State Security Service in Borno State, Ahmed Abdullahi, said that security agents had tracked the militant through the signals sent out by his mobile phone. Reports further indicated that Qaqa was later flown to Abuja for interrogation.
A source in the security service also told AP that the suspect was being interrogated in order to confirm his identity.
However, an online medium, Premium Times, quoted the spokesperson of the SSS, Maryln Ogar, as saying that she was not aware of the arrest.
“I don’t know where they got the information that the guy was arrested. The truth is that we don’t have him. I don’t have any such information that he was arrested,” Ogar reportedly said.
Meanwhile, the foremost Northern socio-political group, the Arewa Consultative Forum, urged the government to find a solution to the Boko Haram menace. The ACF, at a press conference in Kaduna, also appealed to the members of the sect to come out and agree to talks with the government.
The ACF Chairman, Alhaji Aliko Mohammed, said, “Having reviewed the horrendous attacks on Kano and the spate of attacks on many parts of the North which, at the last count, have claimed the lives of over two thousand people, Muslims, Christians, northerners, southerners – everyone – and an unquantifiable amount of property across the North, the meeting came to the conclusion that unless addressed quickly and decisively, the threat posed by these attacks have reached such a level that threatens national peace and order and has the potential to cause the collapse of peace, security and public order in the North in particular and the nation in general.”
Mohammed was flanked at the press conference by notable Northern leaders. In attendance were the Secretary of the ACF, Col. Musa Shehu (retd); former Katsina State governor, Saidu Barda; a former Minister of Mines and Steel, Ahmed Mohammed Gusau; Mallam Abu Gidado; Senator Joseph Waku; and a former Military Administrator of Kebbi State, Colonel Paul Uba (retd).
Mohammed enjoined the government to be committed to the dialogue with Boko Haram by guaranteeing the protection of the leaders, lamenting that the bulk of the casualties of the sect’s attacks had been northerners.
He said, “The Federal Government should commit itself openly and unambiguously in guaranteeing the security of leaders of Boko Haram when eventually they come out for dialogue promised by Mr. President. Government should continue to persevere, uncover the true identity of these people, to be able to determine their demands or grievances and address those that may be genuine and in accordance with our laws.
“ACF calls upon all people of good conscience who may have access to members of Boko Haram to urge them to take advantage of secure channels of communication to be provided by the Federal Government towards achieving a resolution of the current bloody impasse.
Attacks not religious
The ACF condemned the bombings by Boko Haram and described them as unIslamic, saying no religion sanctions the shedding of blood. It advised the government should seek to get to the root of the sect’s grievances.
“Similarly, ACF calls upon and enjoins the leaders and members of Boko Haram to realise that no religious doctrine permits the killing of innocent lives. It is important to point out to them that they are inflicting terror, death and destruction upon people who are not in any way responsible for whatever injustice they believe have been done to them.
“While it is true that the actions of Boko Haram are condemnable, it is also necessary to call upon the Federal Government and all our political leaders as well as all those in positions of authority, to recall the United Nations resolution 1963 of 2010 which urges governments around the world to address underlying causes of civil unrest and social conflicts rather than resort to hard military power which rarely solves them.
“The Federal and State Governments should be seen to demonstrate fairness and justice in dealing with all issues of insecurity and infringement of the laws.”
The ACF, according to Mohammed, views allegations suggesting that Northern leaders are behind the activities of Boko Haram, as worrisome.
He said, “ACF notes with grave concerns some serious allegations peddled by certain people to the effect that some people from other sections of the country were conspiring to cause high level of insecurity across the country with the clear intention of making the country ungovernable.
“Some of these allegations go as far as saying that there are plots to assassinate the President. They also allege that southerners were not only being killed but that their attempts to flee the North were being blocked by Northerners. These allegations have been written and widely publicised in the media. “Considering the gravity of the allegations bordering on treason, the Forum calls on the government, as a matter of urgency, to investigate them for the purposes of prosecution.
The northern body asked the government to overhaul the security agencies to make them more proactive and deliver better services.
“ACF notes the well advertised changes made in the Nigeria Police for better services. However, in view of the widespread ineffectiveness with which current security challenges are being tackled, the Forum calls on the government to extend similar re-organisation to all other security agencies, especially the intelligence community. We call on the government to be more proactive, more decisive and engage in less lamentation,” Mohammed said.
The group noted the recurring calls for Sovereign National Conference to debate and agree on the union of the component parts of the country and said the terms of living together had been well- defined.
It, however, said that it was committed to whatever would make the task of nation building easier.
The Arewa Chairman said, “The ACF reviewed the recurring calls for a national conference, and even a Sovereign National Conference, for the purpose, the proponents say, of re-defining the terms of our union.
“The Forum concluded that the terms of our National Union and those by which the Nigerian Federation are run have been well defined in our Constitution.
“However, for the avoidance of doubt, it should be made clear that the North remains open to, and will be keen to discuss any ideas that may place Nigeria in a better position to meet the challenges of nation building and secure a better future for this and succeeding generations of Nigerians.”