On April 14, 2014, about 276 female students were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State by members of the dreaded Boko Haram. At least 57 of the schoolgirls escaped while some of the them were married off to Boko Haram commanders as others were used as suicide bombers. Riding on the success of the Chibok girls’ abduction, the sect, again, on February 19, 2018, abducted 110 schoolgirls from the Government Girls Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, located in Bulabulin, Yunusari Local Government area of Yobe State. On March 21, the Islamic group returned 106 of the kidnapped children.
But a lone Christian girl, Leah Sharibu, wasn’t released. It was gathered that the group promised to release her if she would convert to Islam. Four years after the kidnap of the Chibok girls, just when Nigerians had given up on finding the key players in the abduction saga, the Nigerian Police Force broke the jinx and arrested 22 key actors. Our correspondent gathered that the suspects were arrested by operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT), led by a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Mr Abba Kyari. The suspects, mostly Boko Haram commanders were below 30 years.
The Borno State Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr. Damian Chukwu, disclosed that the arrests were made when operatives were deployed to coordinate operations against rising spates of suicide bomb attacks in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital and other towns. Other special forces, who joined in the tactical and strategic operations across some troubled North East states, included: the Police Mobile Force (PMF), Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) personnel, Police Bomb Squad (EOD), Police Air Wing, Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS), Conventional Police personnel, Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (FCIID), and Police Terrorism Investigation Centre. Chukwu said: “Operations to apprehend and take out suspected terrorist elements troubling the North East received impetus sometime in March, when the IGP, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, visited Maiduguri on a five-day operational tour.
While Majinta Modu (23), Adam Mohammed (21), Mamman Wardi (25), Alhaji Modu Jida, Ajiri Bulama Dungus (22), Mohammed Abba (20), as well as Fannami Mustapha were said to have confessed to taking part in the 2014 abduction that rocked Chibok community and several attacks on towns, Adam Mustapha (20 years) was said to be the overall coordinator and kingpin of suicide bombings in Borno and Adamawa States, who conveyed female and male suicide bombers from Sambisa Forest to different locations in Borno and Adamawa States where they detonated their explosive materials.
‘I worked for Boko Haram because I didn’t earn money as JTF member’
Mohammed Bashir, 34, is a member of the civilian Joint Task Force, which was created to work against the Boko Haram sect. Rather than work for the defeat of the sect, Bashiri worked for the sect to succeed. He confessed to have worked for the sect because he was not earning money as a member of the JTF.
He stated: “But Boko Haram sect was ready to pay me for information and easy movement within the me- I worked for Boko Haram because I didn’t earn money as JTF member –Boko Haram suspect tropolises.” Bashir further recalled: “I was part of the group that formed civilian JTF in 2012. I also joined the military in fighting against the sect. But the government was not paying me then, I was forced to join the Boko Haram. It was one Adam who lured me into the group.
I became an informant. I used my position as a civilian JTF to pass on information to him. Whenever he wanted to take supplies to Boko Haram in the Sambisa Forest, he would need me to give him information about movement of military men. He used to pay me N10, 000 on any information I gave to him. He promised that the group would soon reward me handsomely.”
Reminiscing on the feats, Chukwu said: “The IGP reinvigorated the operational strategies of the Force with IRT to squarely confront and arrest Boko Haram Commanders and fighters, who are behind the series of suicide bombings, mass killings of innocent people and abductions/kidnap of hundreds of school girls, boys and adults in the affected states of the North East.
IRT operatives in swift coordinated operations with personnel of the Command and other police detachments at different locations in the state, from 04/07/2018 till date, arrested 22 Boko Haram subcommanders and fighters after fierce gun battles. In the gun battles, some of the BH camps were destroyed. Several Improvised Explosives were detonated by the Police EOD. Caches of firearms/ ammunition and properties of victims were recovered.”
Confessions of 20-year-old Boko Haram member
Mustapha, a native of Maiduguri, said that he joined the sect in 2009 when Mohammed Yusuf, its founder was alive. He explained that during that period, he didn’t take part in the fight because he was too young. He said that he was about 11-year-old then. Mustapha said that he got further fascinated by the group in 2014, when he realised people were making money from the group’s activities.
He disclosed: “My job as a member of Boko Haram Since 2014 was to take young girls, who are to be used for suicide bombings to target locations. I’m usually paid N200, 000 for each operation.” According to Mustapha, he only attended Islamic school and even at that, didn’t complete his education. Today, he is a taxi driver and had been operating that business since four years now.
He said: “I joined the Boko Haram sect in 2009 when Mohammed Yusuf was still alive. I used to pray with the sect in their mosque, but I didn’t join in the fight from the beginning. I went underground; I re-joined the group four years ago, when one Ibrahim, a member of the group approached me with the idea of buying stolen cows and other livestock’s from the group, which I would sell in Maiduguri.
“I made so much money from the business. Ibrahim was later killed by soldiers during a shootout. I bought a vehicle with the money I made and the group then gave me a new assignment which was to always transport suicide bombers, who were mainly young girls from the Sambisa Forest, with their suicide vest, to their target locations. “The person who normally transported the girls from Sambia Forest to Muma Garage in Maiduguri, where I will pick them up, was Abu, but he had been arrested. Sometimes I get instruction from the Sambisa Forest on where the suicide bombers would attack, and where there is none, I would take them to any area where I felt the casualty figure would be very high.
“My target locations were usually densely populated areas and before I receive the girls from Abu, I normally drive round the town to find areas that were populated. I took the girls to several places, including Post Office area of Maiduguri, where they carried out attacks. I also took them twice to Baga Road, Monday Market, 33 Army Barracks. In fact, so many people died dur-ing these attacks. “I was usually paid N200, 000 after each successful mission.
My last mission was on May 10, 2018. We carried out the attack at 33, Army Barracks in Maiduguri. In one of my operations, on Baga Road, one of my younger brothers was killed during the suicide bomb attacks. I felt very bad about the incident. I wanted to quit but couldn’t because the money was tempting. But I now regret everything I had done. I don’t know how the police learnt about me; I was in my house when they stormed in and arrested me.”
‘How we kidnapped Chibok Girls’
Another suspect, Mayinta Modu aka Abu (23yrs) – from Bama Local Government Area, described himself as Boko Haram commander from Bama Local Government Area of Borno State. He said: “The leadership of the Boko Haram sect usually pays each fighter N30, 000 after each attack.” Recounting how the sect members abducted the girls in April 2014, Modu said: “One of the commanders, who receives directs orders from our leader, Abubakar Shekau, Bana Chungori, called out over 100 of us. We all assembled at the Sambisa Forest; he said that Shekau had ordered that we should all go to Chibok Local Government and kidnap some schoolgirls at a school. We couldn’t ask questions; it was a direct order from Shekau.
We all mounted our trucks. We had five big military trucks, three Toyota Hilux van and two Isuzu pickup trucks. “We left the Sambisa Forest around 5pm that fateful day and arrived at the school around 10pm. We surrounded the school when we arrived. When we were certain that there would be no resistance, Chungori gave orders that we should all go in; we found the girls running around in fear. We kidnapped many of them and moved them into our trucks.
When we got to the entrance of the Sambisa Forest, Chungori ordered his foot soldiers and lower commanders, including me, to leave the trucks because he wanted to take the girls to Shekau, whose camp was deep inside the forest. I didn’t see the girls again because I didn’t go close to Shekau. I was paid N30,000 on the day of the abduction. I was given N60, 000 after a set of ransom was paid for the release of the girls.”
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