By Dayo Johnson
FEAR gripped the entire South-West, last week, when two commanders of the dreaded terrorist group listed as numbers 156 and 176 on the wanted Boko Haram members’ list were arrested in the region. The suspects who have made confessional statements include 42-year-old ldris Ibrahim Babawo nicknamed Nagada and 20 year-old Mohammed Bashir, were arrested in Isua, in Akoko South-East area of Ondo State.
From L-r: •Bashir: Boko Haram suspect & •Babawo: Another Boko Haram suspect both arrested in Ondo state
Of concern was the scary revelation by Bashir that they invaded the states in the region to cause maximum havoc. The first suspect that was arrested, Babawo, said he came from Bauchi State and was heading for Ibafo in Ogun State when he was apprehended by Police detectives in Isua, Akoko South-East area of the state. He was about to join other sect members who were already in the state.
Bashir was equally apprehended within a spate of one week at the exact location where Babawo was picked up by detectives while loitering about. Bashir who spilled the beans said he came from Niger Republic with his brother who had gone underground, to cause havoc before his arrest by anti-crime Police detectives. The suspect who spoke in Hausa language was confirmed to be a follower of one Daffo, a loyalist of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau.
His confession that their members are in the state and other states in the region to cause maximum havoc heightened tension and anxiety across the states last week. Babawo was picked up when the trailer he boarded developed mechanical fault and the driver asked him to keep watch while he went in search of a mechanic.
Upon interrogation, Police detectives found out that he was economical with the truth and subsequently handed him over to the military personnel for further interrogation after which he confessed.
He was later discovered to be number 156 on the wanted Boko Haram terrorist organisation’s list. According to the Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier-General Sani Kukasheka; “Preliminary investigation shows that the terrorist kingpin hailed from Chinade village, Katagum Local Government Area of Bauchi State.”
He said the suspect escaped from the North-East due to military onslaught on the terrorists with a view to evade arrest and prosecution. But nemesis has caught up with him.
Fear and anxiety: The arrest of the second suspect heightened fear and anxiety across the region. Mohammed Bashir who was paraded by the state Police Command confessed that they were about to strike and cause havoc in Ondo State when they were picked up by Police Anti- crime patrol squad. He said that he was arrested by the Police detectives when he came out of his hideout in the bush to survey the town, eat and pray.
Dependable Police source said that detectives noticed the suspect praying on the highway and was subsequently invited for questioning. Police source said that the suspect told his interrogators that he was a stranger and did not know where mosque was located in the town hence his observing his prayers on the highway.
The DPO was said to have directed him to the mosque but later discovered that his face matched that of a wanted member of the sect on serial number 176 on the wanted Boko Haram terrorist list in his office. He was later trailed by detectives and taken into custody after which he confessed being a member of the Boko Haram sect.
In an interview, Bashir said that members of the sect met several times in the bush with one of their leaders who was to supply them with arms and ammunition on the day of their operation. Bashir said that those that came for the meeting were many and that one of them was Babawo who was arrested last week by Police detectives. Bashir said he hailed from Nasarawa State.
The suspect who confessed that he doubled as a herdsman when there was no operation to carry out said he came from Niger Republic with his younger brother, who is still at large. According to him, he had killed two people (an adult and a young boy) in their farm in Nasarawa State within the last eight months that he was recruited into the sect.
Bashir told newsmen that he was not afraid of killing people and that; “killing is fun to me.” He said that his mother was a psychiatric patient who is from Maiduguri, Bornu State. Asked how he was recruited into the sect, the suspect said that they were picked randomly by leaders of the sect across the states in the Northern region.
Police confirm arrest: Police Commissioner Gbenga Adeyanju said that the suspect was arrested at about 10: 15 am while loitering along lfira Road, lsua Akoko, Ondo State and had confessed to being a member of the sect after he was subjected to “serious interrogation.” The Police chief said that the suspect confessed that he fled Maiduguri, Borno State for Nasarawa State and finally landed in Ondo State. He claimed to be a follower of one Daffo who is also a loyalist to Shekau, the Boko Haram leader.
However, jolted by the confession of Bashir that members of the sect are scattered across the state and the South-West region, the Ondo State Government promptly doused the palpable tension by assuring the people of adequate security of their lives and property. Bashir said that he was picked up when the members of the sect were about to strike and cause havoc across the state.
His startling revelation has been the talk of the town by the people of the state since the day he was paraded. Sensing the fear in the minds of the people, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu swiftly responded by assuring them that the state and the security operatives are on top of the situation.
A statement by the Information and Orientation Commissioner, Yemi Olowolabi, admonished the people “to go about their daily businesses without panic as the government is fully prepared to ensure that nothing tampers with security of the people.”
The governor, according to Olowolabi, maintained “that the confession made by the arrested Boko Haram kingpin should not be a cause for alarm or panic. The fact that Mohammed Bashir was apprehended at Isua Akoko by security personnel before carrying out the dastardly act, shows that the government is on top of security situation everywhere in the state.”
Governor Akeredolu, however, commended security personnel for being proactive and being alive to their responsibilities of providing adequate security for the people at all times and everywhere. He said, “We have adequate security in place to curtail crime in the state and that is what has led to the arrest of the Boko Haram suspects. We are working with all the security agencies in the state. We won’t take anything for granted. We’ll always ensure the security of lives and property of our people; so no Boko Haram activity can succeed here.”
Meanwhile, the state Police Command has restated its readiness to rout out all other members of the sect hiding anywhere across the state. Police Commissioner Gbenga Adeyanju said the state Police Command is on top of the situation, there is no cause for alarm.