JTF arrests r lawyer, doctor in Borno, Yobe over links with Boko Haram
The Joint Task Force has detained two professionals, a medical doctor and a lawyer, allegedly for their roles in the prevailing violence in the area.
The authorities of the Defence Headquarters are silent on the issues that culminated in the arrest of the doctor and the lawyer.
It was gathered that while the doctor was arrested in Maiduguri, Borno State, the lawyer is said to be a prominent defender of the ideology and activities of the insurgents in Potiskum, Yobe's largest city.
Investigation revealed that the doctor, who is being held in a JTF detention centre, was believed to have links with the World Health Organisation and other international non- government organisations.
A highly placed source in the JTF said the doctor was arrested while riding with suspected Boko Haram members in a pickup van, which was carrying Improvised Explosive Devices, several AK 47 Assault riffles and other dangerous weapons.
It was gathered that the driver and the other occupants refused to stop at a JTF road block and abandoned the truck after engaging the security agents in a gun duel.
It was learnt that the doctor, suspected to me a medical expert to the sect, was caught while attempting to retrieve a forgotten laptop in the van several hours after the incident.
The vehicle was said to be under watch by operatives of the JTF.
But the doctor was said to have told his interrogators that he was doing some work with the World Bank and had to board the pickup van belonging to the terror suspects when he had issues with his car.
Security operatives have dismissed the explanation given by the doctor as untenable, arguing that a doctor, who had issues with his car, could not have been riding with terror suspects in a car loaded with explosives, guns and other dangerous weapons.
It was further leant that several non-governmental organisations, including international human rights body, the Amnesty International, had visited the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, in relation with the arrest of the doctor.
Apart from the shocking arrest of the doctor, the JTF in Yobe is holding a 'highly placed lawyer' in Potiskum for suspected act of terrorism.
The lawyer was said to have been arrested and detained as a result of intelligence report that he was aiding terrorism and had always appeared for the insurgents in court.
Security operatives are said to have established some links between the lawyer and the killing of a teacher and 29 students of the Government Secondary School, on July 5.
It was learnt that the lawyer was said to have threatened that Potiskum would not know peace until he was released.
A security operative stated that the school students were killed on the second night of his alleged threat that there would be vengeance for his arrest.
Also on Thursday, the Director of Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. Chris Olukolade said at a news conference in Abuja that ' over 1,000 of the Boko Haram insurgents were arrested in the process of engagement with weapons in their hands and they are being detained.'
He also said that some of the members of the sect had been killed in action.
He was silent on the casualty figure on the side of the Military Joint Task Force since emergency rule was declared in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
Olukolade, who justified the state of emergency in the three states, said the gains of the operations would be clear when viewed against the backdrop of the security situation in the states before the exercise.
He stated that no part of the country was under the control of the insurgents contrary to the situation that prompted President Goodluck Jonathan to declare emergency rule in the affected states.
The Defence spokesman said that a large quantity of arms and ammunition as well as raw materials for the production of Improvised Explosive Devices were recovered from the arrested inurgents.
He added that the drastic reduction in bombings outside Borno, Yobe and Adamawa was a clear reflection of the rate of success of the ongoing security operations in the three states.
Olukolade said that the few incidents and the attack on soft targets were meant to send a message that the insurgents were still around.
He said, 'The level of success is predicated on the President's directive to stop the incident. The rate of bombings outside the three states has reduced in drastic terms. You may still see skirmishes; but those are isolated cases to announce that they are still around.
'Before, these people took over government facilities and converted them to their use. Today, we can report that that has been completely reversed; there is no part of this country where terrorists have freedom of action.
'The special forces have also recovered large quantity of arms and ammunition from them in the Sambisa forest where they had their biggest operational base.'
Meanwhile, the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of the Security Challenges in the North has said it will intensify discussions with the Boko Haram Sect.
The Chairman of the committee and Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki (SAN), gave the assurance in his Sallah message on Thursday in Abuja.
He said in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Okey Muogbo, that more insurgents were expected to accept the dialogue option.
Turaki said, 'The business of ensuring that we have a more peaceful and secure society is our collective responsibility and I pray that God will guide and assist us in this Herculean task which my committee has been charged to bring to a successful end.'
According to him, members of the amnesty committee are aware of the enormous challenges in the dialogue process. He added that as patriotic Nigerians, 'we are fully committed to discharging the duty of ensuring that peace returns to the North and by extension, to the whole country.'
He urged insurgent group members who had not yet accepted dialogue to use the occasion of the Sallah to 'irrevocably accept the dialogue option offered by the Federal Government and come to the negotiating table to air their grievances and discuss a peaceful end to the crisis in the North.'
'The search for a permanent solution to the security challenges in the North requires the efforts and commitment of all Nigerians', Turaki stated.