The Military Joint Task Force patrolling the streets in search of Boko Haram extremists
87 of the people arrested have been confirmed as terrorists.
About 87 of the over 486 travellers arrested in Abia State have been identified as members of the
insurgent Boko Haram group, a security source has told PREMIUM TIMES.
The travellers were arrested on Monday in Aba, along Enugu – Port Harcourt Expressway, while
travelling from Northern Nigeria to Port Harcourt in several buses.
The Director of Defence Information, Chris Olukolade, had, in a statement on Tuesday, said a
wanted Boko Haram suspect was identified during the screening of those arrested. He, however,
did not name the suspect.
Mr. Olukolade also stated that those identified as possible security risks or illegal immigrants
would be separated from their colleagues for further action. A top security source, however, told
PREMIUM TIMES, Thursday, that apart from the one earlier identified, 86 others have been identified
as suspected terrorists.
“But to be double sure, we have called for additional screening,” he said. He confirmed that the
suspects were all headed to Port Harcourt when they were arrested. He said that most of them,
however, had never been to Port Harcourt before now and some did not even have up to N1,000
on them. He stated that although no weapons were discovered on them, a certain kind of body
marks associated with terrorists was noted on them.
He disclosed that the suspects were being held at 144 Battalion, close to Umuahia in Abia State
although the confirmed kingpin has been moved to a different location. He, however, refused to
disclose the name of the confirmed kingpin, saying it could jeopardise investigations, as some
persons linked to him might try to escape from the country if his name was mentioned.
“The kingpin is making very useful statements. Initially, he was trying to deceive the interrogators
until he was confronted with fresh info,” the source said.
When PREMIUM TIMES approached Mr. Olukolade with the information from the reliable source, he
“I cannot say anything now, the screening is still ongoing,” Mr. Olukolade, a Major General, said.
The arrest of the travellers was the first major one of suspected Boko Haram insurgents by security
officials in eastern part of Nigeria.
The group, which has killed thousands of people since its insurgency began in 2009, has limited
its activities to Northern Nigeria leading to the declaration of a State of Emergency in Borno, Yobe,
and Adamawa. The sect, however, recently threatened to attack other parts of the country.
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