Ex-soldier, Habibu Bama declared wanted for Christmas Day bombing

The State Security Service has declared wanted an ex-soldier, Habibu Bama, in connection with the Christmas Day bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State.

The detained spokesman for the violent Islamic sect, Boko Horam, Abu Qaqa, was said to have named Bama as a key figure in the bombing of the church where 44 persons were killed.

Another key suspect the December 25, 2011 bombing, Kabir Sokoto, is already undergoing interrogation in the hands of security agents after he was re-arrested on February 10 in Taraba State. Sokoto was initially arrested on January 13 in Abuja but he escaped from police custody barely 24 hours after.

The SSS, in a statement by its Deputy Director, Media and Public Relations, Marilyn Ogar, in Abuja on Wednesday, implored members of the public with information that could lead to Bama’s arrest to contact the nearest police station, military formation or any other security agency.

“He (Bama) is hereby declared wanted by the Federal Government in connection with crimes against the State.

“Habibu Bama is an ex-soldier, Kanuri by tribe and hails from Bama, Borno State. He is also known by the following names: Habit BAMA; Shuaibu BAMA; and Habib MAMMAN.”

Though the SSS did not give details of Bama’s involvement in the Christmas Day bombing, security sources confided in our correspondent that Qaqa fingered the ex-soldier as the one in charge of training of members of the sect.

It was learnt that Sokoto, whose phone reportedly established the sect’s link with high profile politicians and individuals had named some yet to be identified people as their backers.

Members of the sect are currently on bombing campaign in the northern states and the Federal Capital Territory. Its recent activities included the multiple bombing attacks on Kano with a casualty figure of over 100; last year’s bombing of the United Nations office in Abuja, killing 34 people; and last week’s attempted attack on the headquarters of Army Division 1 in Kaduna.

In all, 1,200 persons have been killed in attacks by Boko Haram since it stepped up its activities two years ago.

Bama hit the wanted list just as the Force Disciplinary Committee investigating the involvement of Commissioner of Police, Zakari Biu, was said to have concluded its investigation.

A security source told our correspondent that the work of the panel was ‘helped’ by Qaqa’s disclosures. The Boko Haram spokesman was said to have released a lot of information to the FDC concerning the workings of the sect.

Some of the information obtained from Qaqa, the source said, had been useful in determining the culpability or otherwise of Biu in the escape of Sokoto on January 15.

Biu was in charge of investigating Sokoto when the Boko Haram member escaped from police custody. The CP was consequently arrested and interrogated to determine his involvement in the escape.

“The re-arrest of Sokoto has greatly helped the FDC in the investigation of Biu,” the source added.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government on Wednesday asked member-states of the Economic Community of West African States to tighten the region’s borders, saying Boko Haram had internationalised its operations.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Olugbenga Ashiru, stated this in Abuja while addressing ECOWAS Council of Ministers.

Ashiru, who is the current chairman of the Council, explained that Boko Haram had affiliated itself to terrorist groups in neighbouring countries.

Consequently, the minister said Nigeria was deeply concerned about the security challenge the situation posed to the West African sub-region.

He said, “The need to strengthen our border controls to curtail the inflow of small arms, drug trafficking and terrorist infiltrations has become imperative.

“This is exemplified by affiliations of Nigerian domestic terrorist group with like-mind groups in the neighbouring countries and beyond.

“In short, Nigeria’s local terrorists are going international. Nigeria quite appreciates the fact that this is of serious concern and challenge to our sub-region.

“It is our responsibility, as member states, to deny these terrorists safe havens in our respective states in order to nip them in the bud.”
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