Bomb mastermind 'hid behind laundry'

2012-02-11 12:20

Abuja - The alleged mastermind of a radical Islamist sect's Christmas Day church bombing fled across Nigeria after escaping police custody and hid for about a month before finally being apprehended, authorities said.

The arrest of Kabiru Sokoto by Nigeria's secret police and military comes after his escape led to national embarrassment amid the increasingly bloody attacks carried out by the sect known as Boko Haram.

Though President Goodluck Jonathan fired the nation's top police official, the nation's weak central government still appears unable to stop the sect from attacking at will and disappearing into the shadows.

Officers from the State Security Service and soldiers raided a home early on Friday morning in Mutum Biyu in Taraba state where they suspected Sokoto was hiding, said Marilyn Ogar, a spokesperson for the secret police agency. They found Sokoto hiding behind a rack of drying laundry, Ogar said.

Authorities did not say how they found Sokoto, though secret police have in the past tracked suspects using the signals from their mobile phones. Ogar said Kabiru was hiding in a suspected accomplice's home, but it wasn't clear what his plans where. He initially fled to Nasarawa state, which borders Abuja, then to Taraba state, which borders Cameroon, she said.

Sokoto, wearing a green Puma T-shirt, appeared before journalists at a news conference at the secret police's Abuja headquarters. He only answered "yes" when asked if he was Kabiru Sokoto.

Radical sect

Police named Sokoto, an alleged member of the radical sect known as Boko Haram, as the prime suspect for the December 25 bombing of St Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, a city just outside of Nigeria's capital Abuja. That attack killed at least 44 people, church officials say, as a car bomb detonated just as worshippers left an early morning Christmas Mass.

Boko Haram claimed responsibility for that attack and two others carried out the same day. The sect, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege" in the local Hausa language, is carrying out increasingly sophisticated and bloody attacks in its campaign to implement strict Shariah law and avenge Muslim killings in Nigeria, a multiethnic nation of more than 160 million people.

Officers arrested Sokoto in January at the official compound of the Borno state governor in Abuja. Borno state, in Nigeria's arid and dusty northeast, is Boko Haram's spiritual home.

However, a day after his arrest, a local police commissioner ordered Sokoto to be transferred to another police station in Abaji, a town outside of the capital. Authorities say the officers guarding Sokoto were attacked by suspected sect members and that he escaped, though the timing of the transfer and the official version of how he escaped has been widely questioned in the time since.

The local police commissioner has since been removed and is under investigation. Jonathan also fired the nation's top police official, though he was only a few months away from mandatory retirement.

It appears Nigeria's government has invested more manpower in hunting down Sokoto and keeping him held. The suspected bombing mastermind was flown back to Abuja on an air force flight, said a security official who requested anonymity as he wasn't authorised to speak to journalists. 

This year, Boko Haram is blamed for killing at least 271 people, according to an Associated Press count. At least 185 people died in the sect's co-ordinated assault in January on Kano, the largest city of Nigeria's Muslim north.

- SAPA
Read more on:    boko haram  |  goodluck jonathan  |  nigeria  |  west africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

3 sports games you have to watch this weekend

Whether it’s date night or a braai with buddies, plan around these three exciting sporting games!

 
 

Men24.com

How to maintain your mo, bro
Hottie of the day: Colette
Pro-skater Tony Hawk rides a hoverboard!
10 ways to drive her wild!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

QA Manager

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
ODwyer Personnel

Area Manager - Cape Town

Cape Town
Service Solutions Staffing

Junior Java Developer

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT
R20 000 - R30 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong desire to be unique, self sufficient, right and in control today. Your mind is fast today and you may have the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.