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SSS declares ex-soldier Habibu Bama wanted

On 15 February, the State Security Service (SSS) declared an ex-soldier, Habibu Bama, wanted.

A statement signed by the Deputy Director, Public Relations of the SSS, Marilyn Ogar, said Bama is “wanted by the Federal Government in connection with crimes against the state”. The terse statement, which did not give further details, said that the wanted ex-soldier is a Kanuri, from Bama in Borno State.

The SSS said that Bama was known by other names such as ‘Habib Bama’, ‘Shuaibu Bama’, and ‘Habib Mamman’.

It implored members of the public with any information that could lead to his arrest to immediately contact the nearest police station, military formations or other security agencies.

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Kabir Sokoto, Christmas Day bomb suspect, re-arrested by SSS

On 10 February, authorities in the Federal capital, Abuja, confirmed that the State Security Service (SSS) had re-arrested Mallam Kabir Umar Sokoto, the main suspect in the Christmas Day bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, in which 43 worshippers were killed.

Unofficial sources had earlier reported that the suspect was re-arrested by the SSS, in a small hut in Mutum Biu in Taraba State, close to the border with the Republic of Cameroon. Mr Reuben Abati, spokesman for The Presidency, later confirmed the arrest to some newsmen.

Kabir was first arrested by the police on 14 January, at the Borno State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja. He was handed over to a Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr Zakari Biu, for further investigations. 

On 15 January, the CP sent a small team of policemen in a Toyota truck, to take him to his residence in Abaji, a town in the Federal Capital Territory, for a search. As the team got into Abaji, some young men believed to be members of his group, attacked and overwhelmed them, and freed the suspect.

A statement by the Police Force Headquarters said the Police viewed that development as “serious negligence on the part of the Commissioner of Police” and therefore queried and suspended him from duty. It added that the CP might be prosecuted, if a criminal case was established against him and his team.

In the aftermath of Kabir’s dramatic escape, many Nigerians described it as a “national embarrassment” and “a shame”. The National Security Adviser, Gen. Owoye Azazi (retd), said it was “a regrettable drawback on our efforts” to fight terrorism in the country. Within the police top brass, several officers expressed muted displeasure at what they saw as a major bungle. Many citizens called on the Police chief, Mr Ringim, to either hand in his resignation or be fired by President Goodluck Jonathan.

On 18 January, at the instance of the President, the Minister of Police Affairs, retired Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade, issued the police boss a query, asking him to explain within 24 hours, the circumstances surrounding the escape. The query also asked Ringim to show why he should not be punished for negligence, since the ultimate responsibility for keeping the suspect was his, as the nation’s Number One police officer.

On 19 January, the Police offered a reward of 50 million naira (about 309,600 USD) to anyone who could provide information that would lead to the recapture of the suspect. It is not known whether any informant contributed to the re-arrest of the suspect, but it is common knowledge that the embarrassment of his escape from police custody contributed to the sudden end of Mr Hafiz Ringim’s tenure as the nation’s police chief on 25 January 2012.

Abul Qaqa, Boko Haram spokesman, arrested by SSS

On 1 February, an official of the State Security Service (SSS) said the agency had arrested Abul Qaqa, the spokesman of the militant Islamist sect widely known as Boko Haram.

An unnamed official had initially told Reuters news agency that security operatives were still trying to confirm the identity of the man arrested.  He said: “We are still talking to him. Since ‘Abu Qaqa’ is a pseudonym for the Boko Haram spokesman, we want to be sure of who we have with us”.

However, a later statement by a top SSS officer in the Borno State capital, Maiduguri, confirmed the man arrested was actually the Boko Haram spokesman.

The officer said the man was arrested after security operatives had tracked signals from his mobile phone, using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. He further said the arrest of Qaqa, “a senior member of the Shura (Supreme Council) of the sect”, was “a landmark feat that was achieved through collaboration with various stakeholders”.

As there is yet no official report of this development, several accounts are emerging about how Qaqa was arrested. One source reports that he was arrested after security officials had traced the house he was staying in and that he was picked up without any exchange of gunfire with members of his group. Another account said he was seized while attempting to enter the Central Market in Kaduna. The SSS is expected to issue an official briefing that will clear up these contradictions.

Abul Qaqa had often spoken to journalists in the wake of bomb and gun attacks, claiming responsibility for several deadly incidents in the northern states and the federal capital, Abuja.

His most recent interaction with journalists was on 28 January, when he told some newsmen on phone, that security agents had arrested “many” members of his sect in Sokoto and demanded their “immediate and unconditional” release. He threatened that Boko Haram would attack Sokoto in the same manner as it bombed Kano city on 20 January, if the arrested men were not released.

One report said the arrested man is a Nigerian citizen, and that he is not from the far north of the country, but from central Kogi State, ethnically an Igala. This is yet to be confirmed by security authorities.

29 policemen killed in Kano bomb attacks, police authorities report

On 23 January, the Kano State Police Command reported that 29 policemen were among the 186 persons it confirmed killed, in the multiple bomb attacks staged by the militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram, on Friday 20 January.

In a statement, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Ibrahim Idris, said apart from the police casualties, the breakdown of other victims was as follows: three operatives of the State Security Service (SSS), one Customs officer, two Immigration officers, one journalist and 150 other civilians.

The statement listed the areas targeted by the attackers as the Police zonal headquarters along Bayero University Road, the Farm Centre and Zaria Road police divisions, the Immigration office located at Farm Centre, SSS headquarters at Giginya quarters, the official home of the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone 1 (Kano, Katsina and Jigawa States) and St Louis Secondary School. It said the attacks were launched simultaneously by several suicide bombers.

The statement further disclosed that the state Police Command had recovered 10 motor vehicles loaded with improvised explosive devices, in different parts of the metropolis.

SSS foils bank robberies, arrests robbers, kidnappers in Awka, Anambra State

On 8 December, the State Security Service (SSS) in Anambra State reported it had foiled a robbery operation that targeted four banks in Awka, the state capital. It arrested three suspected armed robbers, along with their arms and ammunition, as well as two suspected kidnappers, one of whom had 318,000 fake US Dollars.

FOILED BANK ROBBERIES

Briefing newsmen on how the bank robberies were foiled, the Director of SSS in the State, Mr Alex Okeiyi, said in the early hours of 20 November, a consignment of arms and ammunition was brought into Anambra State from a neighbouring state.

 “At about 1500 hours of the same day in Awka metropolis”, he further reported, “the hoodlums who ordered in the weapons mobilized and came in a red bus to take delivery of the consignment. In an exchange of gunfire that ensued, three members of the gang were arrested, some members sustained varying degrees of injuries and the rear glass of their bus shattered with bullets, and some escaped”. He said the three arrested persons were already assisting the Service in its investigation.

The director added that preliminary investigations had established that the gang had planned to rob some banks on Zik Avenue in Awka. He said First Bank was to be their first target, because it was to take delivery of a large volume of cash from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Monday, 21 November.

The robbers thereafter planned to extend their operation to UBA Plc, Zenith Bank Plc and Fidelity Bank Plc, all on the same Zik Avenue, Awka, before they were pre-empted by a joint team of security operatives. Arms and ammunition recovered from them included two general purpose machine-guns, 1,069 rounds of live ammunition and three pairs of hand gloves.

ARRESTED KIDNAPPERS

The SSS director also reported the arrest of two persons from Umueri in Anambra State and Ohaozara in Ebonyi State, in connection with the kidnap of one Mr Charles Aniemeka-Akaa, a final year law student at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. He said the suspected kidnappers were arrested in Gwagwalada in the Federal Capital Territory, by operatives of the state police command assisted by the FCT command.

He explained that: “During the search operation at the residence of one of the suspects, the sum of 318,000 fake US Dollars in 100 denominations and charms were recovered. An ATM card belonging to one Innocent Idibia, now at large, which was used to withdraw the initial ransom of N1 million paid by the victim’s father, among other incriminating items, were also recovered”.

The director said all the suspects would be prosecuted once investigations are concluded.

Former Boko Haram spokesman, Konduga, bags 3 years jail; denies any mental problem

ALI UMAR KONDUGA Sentenced to 3 years in jail

On 6 December, an Abuja Chief Magistrate Court sentenced the convicted former spokesman of the militant Boko Haram sect, Ali Umar Konduga (a.k.a Al-Zawahiri) to three years jail.

Two weeks earlier, Konduga had pleaded guilty to a two-count charge of felony, criminal breach of public trust and intimidation through anonymous communication. He was summarily convicted by Chief Magistrate Oyebola Oyewumi, in line with the provisions of Section 318 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC). However, the court had withheld its sentence following a plea by the prosecution, that the State Security Service (SSS) still needed Konduga to enable it conclude investigations of his interactions with Senator Ali Ndume whom he had named as a sponsor of the sect.

In sentencing Konduga, Chief Magistrate Oyewumi said: “In view of the plea for leniency and the fact that Section 302 of the CPC provides for a maximum of five years imprisonment, the court hereby sentences you to three years of imprisonment, and by virtue of section 303 of the same code, the convict will be kept at the pleasure of the government”. The court, however, approved a request by the SSS for the convict to serve his term in its custody, in view “the heightened security situation, as it relates to jail breaks in the country”.

Responding to questions from newsmen shortly after he was sentenced, Konduga rejected the claim made by his father, Alhaji Sanda Konduga, last weekend, to the effect that he (the younger Konduga) had been battling with mental challenges. He said: “Even though my father has a big responsibility towards knowing me, according to the Holy Quran, I know myself and I know I’ve not been insane before. In fact, I’ve never been to a psychiatric centre before”.

He however urged that other members of his sect currently in custody be released, as a step towards solving the crisis. He said: “I want the government to release our members that have been imprisoned as an incentive to bring the crisis to an end by laying down their arms”.

SSS bursts suspected kidnappers of King Igodo in Bayelsa State

On 5 December, the State Security Service (SSS) paraded an ex-militant arrested in connection with the kidnap of King Godwin Igodo, the paramount ruler of Atissa clan and a first class traditional ruler in Bayelsa State.

The monarch was abducted by three armed men at his Ogbogoro community home on 1 September. His abductors subsequently took him to a hide-out in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State. While he was in captivity, his kidnappers extracted GSM recharge credit totalling N150,000 from his family. They eventually released him at the Abonema River on 27 September, after his family had paid a ransom of N12.5 million.

Mr Didacus Egbeji, an Assistant Director of the SSS, said the suspect, 24-year-old Promise Adegbe, hails from Olodo compound, Azuzuama Community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. Formerly in the camp of militant leader Young Shall Grow, Adegbe signed up for the Federal Government’s amnesty programme and underwent training at the ex-militant’s camp in Obubra, preparatory to his rehabilitation and reintegration into the society.

Adegbe claimed he had never participated in any kidnap operation before, but that he was lured into King Igodo’s case by his friend Mikel. He said he was not part of the team that abducted the King from his community but joined them in Port Harcourt, six days later. He further confessed that out of the N12.5 million ransom paid by the King’s family, he had already been paid N50,000 and was about to collect the balance when he was arrested.

The SSS said others who participated in the kidnap include one Mikel, Osuo and Kingdom, who are still at large. It said it had completed its investigations and that Adegbe would be arraigned in a High Court in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on 6 December.

Boko Haram spokesman convicted, Senator Ndume remanded in custody

Senator Ndume and Konduga in the court

On 22 November, Ali Sada Umar Konduga, a spokesman of the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, pleaded guilty to the charge preferred against him by the State Security Service (SSS) and was convicted by a Chief Magistrate Court in Abuja. The conviction is seen by many as a major feat, by the Federal Government and the nation’s security agencies, in the campaign against terror.

However, a serving senator, Mohammed Ali Ndume, who was also arraigned, pleaded not guilty of the charge and was remanded in SSS custody.  

Konduga and Ndume were docked before Chief Magistrate Oyebola Oyewumi, charged with felony, breach of official trust and criminal intimidation by anonymous communication, specifically by sending messages to some senior public officials including the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), contrary to Sections 79, 98 and 398 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

Senator Ndume, who was the first accused, pleaded not guilty to the charge. The magistrate ordered that he be remanded in custody and adjourned the case till 6 December when it is to come up for hearing.

Ndume’s counsel, C.I. Nnaemeka, tried to secure bail for him but failed, as the court insisted that a formal application be filed. Ndume pleaded with the court to grant him access to his lawyers as well as his medication, saying he suffers from prostate problems. Chief Magistrate Oyewumi granted his request.

The second accused person, Konduga, speaking through an interpreter, Mustapha Shehu Ismail, pleaded guilty to the one count charge. He admitted to the court that he had sent text messages to Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu, Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido, Senator Sanusi Dagash, Ambassador Seriki Tafida and the Chairman of the Borno State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, Justice Sabo Adamu.

He however pleaded with the court for leniency. The court deferred sentencing him until the allegations against Senator Ndume who pleaded not guilty, are determined.

It will be recalled that a day earlier (21 November), the SSS paraded Konduga, a former political thug and Boko Haram spokesman, before newsmen at its headquarters in Abuja. During that session, Konduga named Senator Ndume, former Borno State governor Ali Modu Sheriff and one-time Ambassador Saidu Pindar (who died in a car crash last August) among politicians sponsoring the militant sect’s activities.

Konduga is the first member of Boko Haram to be convicted in the courts, since the group started its attacks in 2009.

Fighting Piracy: SSS arrests ex-Naval officer, 4 others for hijacking ship

Fighting piracy: Gun boat patrolling Nigerian waters

On 10 November, the State Security Service (SSS) paraded five men, arrested for allegedly hijacking a Lagos-bound vessel, Roasa Tomasos. The men were led by a former naval officer, Lawrence Adesanya, who retired as a Lieutenant Commander (equivalent to Major in the Nigerian Army).

Briefing newsmen at the agency’s state headquarters in Lagos, the SSS’ Deputy Director, Public Relations, Mrs. Marilyn Ogar, said: “On November 3, 2011, a Lagos-bound vessel named Roasa Tomasos, containing 26,000 metric tonnes of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol), was hijacked by suspected sea pirates while approaching Lagos”.

“However, on November 6, 2011, we (SSS) successfully recovered the vessel and its content intact, while the suspects, who are members of a notorious gang of pirates, were apprehended. They include: Lawrence Adesanya (the retired Lt. Cmdr.), Teke Abaka, Lucky Momoh and Philip Kokoh. Two other suspects – Abenego Abaka and a lawyer, referred to simply as Felix – are still at large. They have been declared wanted”.

The SSS spokesperson said further investigations revealed that the suspects, led by Adesanya, were also “responsible for the hijack of a vessel named Cape Bird, carrying 32,000 metric tonnes of Automated Gas Oil (diesel), belonging to Sahara Energy Resources on October 7, 2011. It is suspected that the gang escaped with eight metric tonnes of the product”. She said the suspects usually hijacked vessels around the Niger Delta and diverted them to a location near Lagos where they had ready buyers.

Ogar said investigations were still ongoing and that the suspects would soon be charged to court. She also urged citizens to avoid any acts that could harm the Nigeria’s image, but rather to be security-conscious and assist law enforcement agencies with information that could aid them in enhancing security.

Suspected plotter of UN bomb attack named by SSS, linked with Al Qaeda

On 31 August, security authorities investigating last week’s suicide bomb attack on the United Nations office complex in Abuja, reported they had identified the man who probably led the attack. They declared him wanted.

In a statement issued by the Department of State Services (also known as SSS), the security authorities said: “On 18 August, 2011, precise intelligence was obtained by this Service that some Boko Haram elements were on a mission to attack unspecified targets in Abuja”.

It said following the intelligence, the SSS on 21 August, arrested two members of the militant Islamist sect widely known as Boko Haram. The two men were identified as Babagana Ismail Kwaljima, aka Abu Summaya, and Babagana Mali, aka Bulama, and described as “notorious leaders of the Boko Haram extremist sect”. The statement said that “valuable statements” given by the arrested men suggest that a third member with an al Qaeda connection ploted the attack.

The statement said: “Investigation has revealed that one Mamman Nur, a notorious Boko Haram element with al-Qaeda links who returned recently from Somalia, working in concert with the two (arrested) suspects masterminded the attack on the United Nations building in Abuja”. It declared the suspected mastermind wanted.

The SSS appealed to members of the public to “cooperate with security agencies by providing useful information that could lead to the arrest of Mamman Nur”.

The bomb attack on 26 August smashed a floor of the five-storey UN building which houses all 26 UN agencies working in Nigeria. By the last UN update, the attack killed 23 people and wounded 76, making it one of the dealiest attacks on the United Nations in the history of the world organisation.

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