SSS grills Senator over Boko Haram suspect

For about five hours, the State Security Service(SSS) yesterday grilled a senator on his relationship with a suspected Boko Haram Commander, Shuaib Mohammed Bama, who was allegedly arrested last Thursday at his home in Maiduguri by the Joint Task Force(JTF).

Senator Ahmed Khalifa Zanna, who was released last night, is expected to report to the SSS headquarters by 11am today.

It was also learnt that the suspected Boko Haram Commander has confessed that he was recruited alongside others by politicians, including the Senator, for the 2011 polls.

According to sources, the Senator arrived at the SSS headquarters at about 2.05pm for interaction with the Director-General, Mr. Ekpenyong Ita.

The interrogation took about five hours.

A source spoke on what transpired at the session: “He insisted that the Boko Haram Commander is the son of his sister. But he restated that he does not know whether the suspect is a Boko Haram member or not.

“He admitted that as his nephew, the Boko Haram Commander has been coming to his house, but at a point he was uncomfortable with his behaviour; he banned him from visiting his family.

“The Senator was also asked questions on what Bama had been doing in his house during the on and off shuttles to the place. He said he had refused to tolerate him in his house.

“At a point during the grilling, the team asked the Senator if he has had any link with Boko Haram.

The source quoted the Senator as saying: “My only encounter with Boko Haram is about preparation for this forthcoming Sallah. I gave one of my aides N1.5m to buy rams. I was not around in Maiduguri but some gunmen went to my aide to demand for the money.

“The man said I only gave them N1m and that he had exhausted the money buying rams. They took my aide to his house, ransacked the place and took N250,000, being cash left with him.

“As they were going, the gunmen, suspected to be members of Boko Haram, left a message that I must give them N10m or else they will kill me. That is the only link I have with Boko Haram, I have no relationship with any of their members.”

The SSS interrogators reportedly asked the Senator “why he did not tell the press this dimension on Sunday and at the National Assembly on Monday.

“The investigators also asked if he had reported the death threats from Boko Haram to security agencies. He said ‘no’ because he was not in Maiduguri when it happened.”

On the house where Bama was arrested, the source added: “The Senator said it does not belong to him. He said the suspect was not picked up at his residence.

“But we will get a comprehensive brief from the JTF. And that is why the Senator will appear before the SSS by 11am on Tuesday for another round of questioning. There are some gaps in his statement.

“So far, we have asked him to go home. We have no reason to detain the Senator because we invited him.”

It was, however, a different story yesterday when Bama told the SSS that he and others were recruited during the 2011 general election, by some politicians, including the Senator.

The source said of Bama: “He told us that he and others worked for politicians of a particular party, including the Senator, during the 2011 poll. That was one of his confessional statements.

“The Boko Haram Commander is still undergoing interrogation. He will also tell the SSS where he was arrested.”

Following fears of reprisals from the Joint Task Force(JTF) in Maiduguri, the Senator had earlier said he might evacuate his family from his residence.

He added: “I am in the process of evacuating my family from my residence in Maiduguri because with what JTF has done, anything can happen to them. I will do that soon.

“My only offence is that I said the JTF should withdraw if they are not going to operate according to the rules of engagement.

“They are not there to kill people; they are to counter the insurgency of Boko Haram.

Zanna said he decided to speak out because of the impression already created that he is a Boko Haram member.

He added: “Of course, I have to talk because I have to redeem my image and I have to redeem the image of the Senate.

“I have bad blood with the man I defeated; he wants me to be hanged.”

The Nation

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