by Adebola Rayo
How does a high profile suspect such as Kabiru Sokoto escape police custody? The police rightly described it as an “embarassment”. Obviously there is more to this case than meets the eye and it is a relief that the Commissioner who ordered his transfer has been suspended and is being investigated.
Sokoto was arrested for being the mastermind of one of the worst Boko Haram bombings in recent times, the Madalla Christmas Day bombing of the St Theresa Catholic Church, in which 38 people died.
The circumstances surrounding his arrest should have been the first source of concern to us as a nation; he was arrested at the Borno State Governor’s lodge in Asokoro. That lent credence to Jonathan’s claim a few weeks ago that members of the Islamist sect have infiltrated his government.
That should have been enough cause for an immediate investigation into Sokoto’s ties with the Borno State Governor and those around him but the only thing that happened was that the citizenry pondered on it. In fact, the police would later deny that the suspect was arrested at the Governor’s lodge, claiming instead that the arrest was made at the suspect’s residence in Abaji, a suburb of Abuja.
This did not come as a surprise; reports revealed that the police had been under pressure from different quarters to release Sokoto since his arrest. There were claims that the two sons of a prominent traditional ruler were also involved in the bombing.
One then assumes that with all of these, for whatever reason the police needed to transport him, there should have been adequately armed security personnel accompanying the suspect who is also a known arms dealer.
In the past few days, Jonathan has sent out droves of battle-ready military and para-military personnel to guard the streets of peaceful Lagos. Yet, these security agencies could not provide sufficient protection to move a criminal within the Federal Capital Territory.
A Walk In The Past
Boko Haram was founded in 2002 by Yusuf Mohammed, but they didn’t come to notice until 2009 when the killings began. The sect, which seeks the Islamisation of Nigeria and condemns Western education and technology, has been responsible for several bombings and killings in the past two years and the sect shows no signs of slowing down.
Why should they? They have proven that they are untouchable. Why should they be scared? They have repeatedly taunted the government and thumbed their noses at the government’s “we have the situation under control”. Last week, the group told the government to be ready for more attacks that they would not be able to handle.
Boko Haram isn’t the first of its kind in Nigeria; there was Maitatsine with similar leanings and teachings as the sect. Even five years after Mohammed Marwa (Maitatsine) was killed, the Yan Tatsine riots continued. Maitatsine was a menace in the north for about thirteen years and in his wake he left thousands dead and tens of thousands homeless.
It is sad that history is repeating itself. Boko Haram leader, Yusuf Mohammed, was killed in 2009 yet the sect has continued to wax stronger.
Boko Haram Vs The Government
Although the sect has condemned govenment spending and policies, they have continued to take out their grievances against innocent citizens; Christians and Muslims, northerners and non-northereners resident in the northern part of the country alike.
A government should not be seen to be impotent but that is how ours comes off at the moment. Unable to wield power against the “mighty” but coming down hard on peaceful citizens. It is hard to trust such a government to do anything that really needs to be done.
When a Boko Haram spokesperson, Al-Zawahiri, was arrested in 2011, he got off with a sentence that can only be described as light; three years imprisonment. Three years for the confessed spokesperson of a group that has murdered hundreds of citizens and destroyed countless property in the country. What politics was involved that resulted in that sentence?
If this menace is to be curbed, the government needs to show a willingness to actually deal with the sect. They need to come down hard on them and do that as soon as possible. A three year sentence is not the way forward.
Jonathan needs to order a thorough investigation into all the members of his government who are suspected of having ties with the sect. I am sure like the members of the oil cabal whom the government failed to prosecute, some of the people sponsoring the sect are known.
We also need a complete overhauling of the security agencies because it is hard to fathom how, without insider help, a group of “militant youths” whisked away the man who would have perhaps been the best link the government has had into the sect in a long time.