A highly-placed security source said on Friday that the outcome of the investigations carried out by the military and police culminated in intensified surveillance on the activities of security personnel, who might have sympathy for the Islamic sect.
It was learnt that security operatives had also intensified the search for the leader of the sect, Sheik Abubakar Shekau, who is believed to still be hiding in the country.
It was also learnt that the dismissed police commissioner, Mr. Zakari Biu, would be prosecuted for the escape of a Boko Haram suspect, Kabiru Sokoto.
A security source, who confided in one of our correspondents, said that security operatives had arrested most of the top operatives of the sect and were on the heels of the sect’s leader.
The source, who put the achievement of the security operatives combating the Boko Haram sect at 97 per cent, said the group and the terror it represented would be a thing of the past very soon.
SATURDAY PUNCH investigations showed that security operatives directly involved in the campaign against the sect’s activities were closing in on other security personnel and civilians believed to be supporting the operations of the Islamic group.
The source said, “The findings of the panel that recommended the dismissal of Biu showed that there was a need to deal with the collaborators of Boko Haram in unexpected quarters in the society.”
The Police Service Commission had on Wednesday dismissed Biu over the escape of Sokoto, who was allegedly involved in the Christmas Day bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, where 44 people died.
Until his dismissal from the force for gross negligence and lack of effective supervision by the PSC led by Mr. Parry Osayande, Biu was the commissioner of police in charge of the CID, Zone 7, Abuja.
The source said that the FG would go all out for security personnel found to have carried out their statutory responsibilities in ways suggestive of aiding the Boko Haram.
He added that the dismissal of Biu was a demonstration of the government’s determination to rid the security agencies of officers who aided the militant sect.
The source stated, “You will recall that the escape of Sokoto led to the removal of the former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim. I can assure you that more heads will roll.
“The first victim of Sokoto’s escape from police custody was the then IG. If the controversial escape of Sokoto could consume a man of such a high status, it means that the FG is not sparing anybody.”
Before the decision of the PSC to dismiss Biu, security sources said that it was impossible for the former CP to escape serious sanctions because of the evidence against him.
Although the commission was silent on whether Biu would face a trial or not over the escape of the suspect, a security source said that the dismissed CP would be made to face prosecution.
It was, however, learnt that investigators from the Defence Intelligence Agency and the Directorate of Military Intelligence might have recommended light punishments for the lower-ranking policemen detained and tried alongside Biu in connection with the Sokoto saga.
It was learnt that the investigators were lenient on the rank-and-file on the premise that they lacked the powers to take decisions on their own in the force.
The source said, “He is being prepared for trial, but the lower cadre of police officers, who may have been affected in the release of Sokoto, were acting under an instruction.
“They may not have got any money; they can’t query the decision because theirs is to carry out instructions or commands. The law doesn’t punish blindly; there may be some policemen who may have been spared.”
He stressed that the police was not the only institution whose operatives had displayed bias for the Boko Haram sect.
It was learnt that the Boko Haram group, which has claimed responsibility for bomb explosions in the cities of the North and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and its environs, had its loyalists and supporters in other sensitive security outfits.
According to the source, the FG is taking serious steps to beam its searchlight on the Nigerian Army, the State Security Service, the National Intelligence Agency, and even the Joint Task Force on Security in the North-East involved in the physical prosecution of the campaign against the Boko Haram.
It was learnt that with the successful arrest of many top operatives of the sect and the vital information extracted from them, several supporters of the sect in the civil populace and even the security agencies were hurriedly retracing their steps.
The source said, “I think if you follow closely, the FG is closing in on all of them; the government is combing everywhere in the search for such elements giving covert support to the activities of this group.
“But it is a known fact that it is not only in the police that you find such people. They are scattered in all the security agencies.
“You have them in all the security agencies, including the Nigerian Army, the SSS, the NIA, and others but I can tell you that they are all running for cover.
“I can assure you that the FG is making an appreciable progress in tackling this threat to national security. And very soon, the Boko Haram situation will be over.
“The government is still very much in the business of protecting the people through hi-tech equipment; the security operatives are still committed to the security of lives and property, when there is security there is stability and development comes with stability.”
He attributed the successes recorded by the security operatives in the search for Boko Haram members to the concerted efforts of all the segments of the Nigerian society, such as the security agencies and religious leaders.
“The government is not going to sleep about the Boko Haram issue. Of course steps are being taken to intensify security efforts. There has been relative calm because of the combined efforts of Nigerians, not just the security agencies, but also the religious leaders and others because everybody now believes that this is not a religious thing as claimed by the sect at the beginning,” the source added.
Meanwhile, an online portal, www.saharareporters.com, reported on Friday evening that residents of Gombe township, the capital of Gombe State, reported multiple explosions and gunfight near a police station opposite Bubayero Primary School.