UPDATE: The Task Force offered nothing but vague suggestions regarding the “serving senator” which it refused to name but independent findings and security sources in Borno have told PREMIUM TIMES that the unnamed senator is Ahmed Khalifa Zanna.
Mr. Zanna was elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party to represent Borno Central in the National Assembly. The 57-year-old politician defeated the former governor of the state, and sworn enemy of the Boko Haram, Ali Modu Sheriff, to emerge senator. The insurgent group has privately and publicly accused Mr. Sheriff of being one of the masterminds of the unrest in Maiduguri and has called for his prosecution.
Mr. Zanna will not be the first Borno PDP Senator to be linked with the Boko Haram. Another senator, Mohammed Ndume, was arrested by security operatives for having alleged link and sponsoring the insurgent group. He is currently being prosecuted.
Sources in Maiduguri confirmed that Mr. Ndume and Mr. Zanna each have a house in Damboa Road, an area where many Maiduguri elites also have homes.
A resident of Maiduguri said though Mr. Ndume’s house is more popular in the area, his colleague also has a house there.
“Everybody in Maiduguri knows that Ndume has a house in Damboa, maybe because of the type of person he is. But Senator Ahmed lives there too,” the resident, who did not want his name mentioned for security reasons, said.
PREMIUM TIMES also learnt that Mr. Zanna is from Bama Local Government Area of the State; same as the arrested alleged Boko Haram leader.
It is however not clear if Mr. Zanna truly has a relationship with the Boko Haram as multiple sources in Maiduguri said even Mr. Ndume, who is being prosecuted, has no direct relationship with the Boko Haram.
Efforts to get the Senate spokesperson, Eyinnaya Abaribe, to comment on the latest development were unsuccessful as Mr. Abaribe’s phone was switched off.
The Senate had declared its support for Mr. Ndume despite his alleged link with the Boko Haram and his prosecution.
The Gwange attacks
The JTF also said that it killed another commander of the Boko Haram in Maiduguri on Friday.
The Task Force said Bakura Kulima, popularly called Bin Walid, was killed “during an exchange of fire with troops.”
The security forces had gone to conduct what it referred to as a “follow up operation,” in the Gwange area of Maiduguri. The operation was a follow-up to attacks allegedly launched by the Boko Haram group. The JTF, which claimed it repelled the attacks, had claimed that 24 insurgents were killed while no civilian or security operative was killed.
Residents of the area however told PREMIUM TIMES that dozens of residents of the area and some soldiers were also killed in the attack which occurred on Monday night.
After the “follow up” operation on Friday, the Task Force said it recovered “2 AK 47 Rifles, 55 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition, (and) large quantity of Improvised Explosive Device materials.”
Another Chinese feared killed
Reports from Maiduguri also indicate that another Chinese working for a construction company in Maiduguri has been killed. The victim was shot along Gidan Madara close to a bridge being constructed by the company.
The Joint Task Force had in a statement last week confirmed the killing of two Chinese construction workers who were shot while shopping at a market.
Though no group has claimed responsibility for the killings, they are believed to have been carried out by Boko Haram members. (PREMIUM TIMES)
AFP – Nigerian authorities said Friday they had arrested an alleged high-profile member of extremist group Boko Haram at the home of a senator in the violence-torn city of Maiduguri.
The statement from a military task force in Maiduguri did not name the senator and provided few other details. There have been allegations of links between elements of Boko Haram and local politicians in the past.
“A high-profile Boko Haram commander, one Shuaibu Mohammed Bama, who has been on the list of wanted terrorists … was arrested by task force troops in a serving senator’s house …,” the statement said of the arrest on Thursday.
“He is in the custody of the (task force) and assisting in the investigation and has since made startling revelations.”
In November 2011, Nigerian secret police said they had arrested an alleged Boko Haram spokesman with ties to a member of parliament. The alleged links however appeared to involve local politics in Nigeria’s northeast.
Nigerian authorities frequently exaggerate their efforts in arresting or cracking down on Boko Haram, which has carried out scores of bombings and shootings.