Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Christmas bombing: Outrage over prime suspect’s escape

18 January 2012

There was outrage on Tuesday over the escape of a Boko Haram suspect, Kabir Sokoto, from police custody.

Sokoto, the alleged mastermind of the Christmas Day bombing of Saint Theresa Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, at Abaji, escaped from Abaji, a satellite town in the Federal Capital Territory. Forty-three people died in the incident while 50 others sustained injuries.

Arrested at the Borno State Governor’s Lodge, Abuja, on Saturday, Sokoto was said to have escaped while being taken for a search of his apartment on Monday.

Sokoto, who was arrested alongside a serving military officer, was said to have been tracked to Abuja by security agents after several weeks of investigation. Investigations had linked the suspect to two sons of a powerful Northern traditional ruler said to be close to the corridors of power.

Sokoto was said to have travelled from Maiduguri, Borno State, to Abuja on his way to London but decided to stay overnight at the Borno State Governor’s Lodge, Abuja.

The Director of Communication, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Fr. Raph Madu, blamed the police for the escape. He stated that it was unacceptable that such a high profile suspect could be allowed to escape from custody.

Madu, who was visibly angry, said that the issue had confirmed President Goodluck Jonathan’s allegation that Boko Haram had infiltrated the security service.

“It is such a big shame to the police and the nation and it is part of what the President said that the government and the security service have been infiltrated by the Boko Haram. The Catholic Church calls for a thorough investigation into the matter because it is an affront to the country,” he said.
Lagos lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, called on the President to immediately sack the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim alleging that police authorities might have decided to release the suspect because he had implicated some highly placed Nigerians in his statement.

In a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, Falana said that the President must now know that there are Boko Haram sympathisers in his government.

He said it was unimaginable that the IGP, who ordered the arrest of the suspect in a military-style commando raid, could ask that he (the suspect) be escorted home by five policemen for a search.

Falana said, “Whereas he was arrested by a full lorry load of armed policemen, he was taken out for a search by five policemen.

“He was released in order to cover up the mastermind of the Boko Haram menace. The suspension of the CP by the IGP is diversionary because the IGP must have known that Biu was not the person to combat Boko Haram menace, which is very popular in his home state of Borno.

“The IGP has refused to collaborate with the SSS in stamping out Boko Haram in the country. He should be relieved of his duty without further delay.”

The lawyer threatened that if IGP was not removed he would report Jonathan to the Special Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

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